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The 2002 4BarsRest awards:

CD of the Year

Plenty to choose from this year with many bands, ensembles, soloists and collections to choose from. Who says the demand for brass related music is on the wane?

The overall standard of releases was for us very good indeed – there were only a few “duds” and even they had their moments. No – 2002, although not quite a vintage year, more than made the “appellation controle” standard – as the French say.

We have picked five which we think represent the best of the different strands of releases available – but we still think they were just a short head ahead of the best of the rest in any field. All we thought brought the highest levels of production values from the producers, whilst the performers were all on top form. The added ingredient though was the intelligence of musical thought that shone through. All had something new and interesting to say – even when the repertoire had been recorded more than a few times in the past by others. And that is what makes a truly great CD.

Hymn of the Highlands CDHymn of the Highlands
Yorkshire Building Society
Polyphonic Recordings – CD QRL 214D

YBS on absolute peak form. We have reservations about these themed items of programme music, but you cannot deny that Philip Sparke’s Scottish homage to all things tartan is very, very good indeed.

YBS give it their all and the soloists are exceptional, whilst they still have time to give a very “concert” inspired rendition of Whitsun Wakes. It makes for an inspired release, well crafted and produced and a credit to the band, conductor and the Polyphonic label.

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The Heaton Collection CDThe Heaton Collection
Black Dyke and the International Staff Band of the Salvation Army
SP&S Recordings – CD SP&S 158

The long lost treasures of Wilfred Heaton are finally – and brilliantly brought together by Black Dyke and the ISB with a recording that is simply immense in stature and execution.

The playing is nothing short of superb throughout, whilst the music is simply exhilarating .

After listening to this inspired CD you can reflect in the glory of Heaton’s music with a sense of satisfaction that may never be bettered.

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Overtures CDOvertures
Fodens Band
Egon Recordings – CD SFZ 109

A real triumph of quality over content. The overtures themselves may seem a bit “old hat” and to be honest, the arrangements are not the most inspired (with the exception of Snell’s “Candide”), but Fodens and Russell Gray chuck all the old time baggage out the window and give us 9 cracking renditions of the old favourites.

The playing is fresh, and full of vitality, whilst the direction and interpretations are precise and detailed. Just when you thought all old grannies looked like Thora Hird, Fodens show that one or two of them can still scrub up to look as sexy as Honor Blackman in a leather basque. Prrrrrrrrrrr……..

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Flight CDFlight
Tormod Flaten – euphonium
A/S Productions – CD 001

The best solo CD of the year – and given that it was up against some very strong competition that is really saying something.

13 superb tracks, all played with an immense sense of style as well as quick silver technique showcase a special player, but it is the way in which Flaten has taken the risks to perform “warts and all” that makes this a notch above the rest. No camouflaging or airbrushing – just a top class performer giving of his all. Tremendous stuff.

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Baltic Brass CDBaltic Brass
The Wallace Collection
Deux – Elles Recordings – CD DXL 1042

A real gem of a CD from John Wallace and his group of fellow musicians. The music of Sibelius and Ewald are given brilliant performances from the brass ensemble that reveals themselves as hidden treasures.

All this and they are performed on period instruments which are made to sound every bit as good as the over priced technological monsters that today’s players take for granted. The musicianship of Wallace and his friends is an absolute joy to behold.

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2001 winner:
Butterworth – Black Dyke

How to vote....

Make sure you read all the articles for each category before going to the voting form.

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Butterworth CD - available with 4BR shopping