LIVING THE DREAM - B&R bari star Amy Ewen chats to BB

Issue 6140

END OF THE ROAD - Jeans' tenure at GUS comes to a close

CONCERT REVIEW - Tredegar shines at Newbury Spring Festival

SADLY MISSED - Richard Evans laid to rest

BIDDING FAREWELL - Stephen Allen says goodbye to Lancaster British Brass Band

2022 European Youth Brass Band Championships: Premier Section - live

Friday 29 April, 2022

Live coverage from the Premier Section of the European Youth Brass Band Championships.

Issue 6137 digital April 28, 2022

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Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Mark Good reporting

 

Premier Section draw

Adjudicators: Grethe Tonheim and Adam Cooke

1) Youth Brass 2000 (England) Chris Jeans 
2) Catch Basin Brass Band (Austria) Andreas Lackner

 

Result

1) Catch Basin Brass Band (Austria) Andreas Lackner
2) Youth Brass 2000 (England) Chris Jeans

 

******

The Premier Section featured two bands hugely contrasting in style, the musical weight and intrigue of Youth Brass 2000 pitted against the crystal-clear fizz and sparkle of Catch Basin Brass Band. Both featured outstanding playing, performances of maturity and remarkable stamina. Let’s opt for:

Prediction

1) Catch Basin Brass Band (Austria) Andreas Lackner
2) Youth Brass 2000 (England) Chris Jeans 

 

******

2) Catch Basin Brass Band (Austria) Andreas Lackner

Andreas Lackner cuts an animated figure in the opening stages of Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Horizons and the band responds accordingly, a great sense of flow permeating the music. It’s spirited playing, with only the occasional ensemble issue. The solo euphonium playing is impressive, players soaring into the instruments’ upper reaches with ease. 

There’s a sparkling quality to the sound of Catch Basin Brass Band; bright and exciting - but the detail is there too. That soprano cornet sound would be the envy of many in band halls up and down the land - blimey!

Talking of which, Catch Basin’s soprano player stands to perform Flowerdale, from Sparke’s Hymn of the Highlands. The odd scruffy edge aside, it’s a performance which does much to impress, with that sweet, endearing sound at its core. Andreas Lackner, meanwhile, wears his musical heart on his sleeve, drawing every last ounce of energy from the players at his disposal.

A Brief Symphony of Time is crisp and energetic to open. Again, there’s a crystal clear quality to the sound. Perhaps it could take a touch more ‘middle’ but it really does sparkle. The set work fizzes with life and energy, growing to epic proportions when required.

Thereafter, the piece is altogether more dreamy in its outlook and Andreas Lackner draws a wide variety of musical colours from his young charges, ably assisted by effective use of forces in percussion. It’s high-octane, high-drama - and the band pulls it off with gusto. 

The unrelenting energy of this Austrian band is remarkable, as it concludes with another lip-sapping work in the form of Dan Price’s Starburst. Control and finesse is retained, the lighter corners of the score coming across successfully. Bravo!

 

******

1) Youth Brass 2000 (England) Chris Jeans 

Youth Brass 2000 opens with a world premiere, in new music by Edward Gregson entitled Fanfare for a New Era. Players are in pockets all over the stage, a lone trumpet player at the rear, centre stage starting proceedings with great confidence. Fanfare-like sounds ring around the auditorium, more than a hint of Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending to the repeating motif in the year of the 150th anniversary since the composer’s birth.

Assembled in normal formation, it quickly becomes clear just how big Youth Brass 2000 is; the band sprawls across the stage. Set work, A Brief Symphony of Time, by Simon Dobson, pays tribute to Stephen Hawking and enjoys clinical precision here, underpinned by unrelenting drum kit. Only occasionally does the sheen come off its rhythmic solidity slightly. 

Loud, stabbing figures give way to sinister, spiralling lines. The solos which follow, from the likes of euphonium and flugel, demonstrate mature, endearing sounds as Youth Brass 2000 shows its class. Percussion dominates when required but retains the discipline to return to the background. A Brief Symphony of Time is a work of considerable stature, requiring impressive musical forces. It certainly has that in the form of Youth Brass 2000 and Chris Jeans.

There’s a brief pause in time for the percussion section to wheel out an array of equipment to the front of the stage for The Clock With the Dresden Figures. They do it remarkably quickly and cooly, calmly going on to demonstrate their impressive virtuosity, accompanied by brass - and with just a touch of musical humour.

Sing Sing Sing sees banks of cornets on either side of the band, with trombones positioned in the centre, in front of basses. Again, percussion shines, not least the gents who come to the front to demonstrate slick choreography on their barstools. Well done, fellas. Cornets find their way to the front of the stage to close a programme full of excitement and musical intrigue.