The 2002 4BarsRest awards:
Test Piece of the Year
2002 was a bit of an up and down year test piece wise –
the good were very good (for us anyway), whilst the not so good,
were, well, not so good. Nothing stunk like a polecat on heat, but
a few needed a quick spray of musical deodorant.
Europe had a Ball (to commemorate the great man) whilst the Brits
decided to explore new and newish territory. The result was a bit
of a mish mash, but in general it was a thumbs up from us for the
choices both Nationally and Internationally. There was even a “Wind
of Change” in Australia! Think of the test pieces used at
any level this year and vote for them if you really think they were
better than our selection.
Maunsell Forts – John McCabe
Let’s get this one out of the way first of all. 4BR thought
it a great piece – lots (and we mean lots) didn’t and
thought it boring and rather less than up to the grade. We’ll
stick by our guns on this one though and give it a well merited
nomination. Bands in general liked it, even though it demanded of
them to explore territory they were unfamiliar with (although quiet
balanced playing, maintaining tone is a skill that the bands themselves
have rather lost rather than not yet found).
It was different, although in no way groundbreaking and it was
a pleasure to hear quality bands playing an intelligent and thoughtful
composition instead of the usual pyrotechnic thumping that sometimes
passes for excitement.
– Philip Wilby
Not a new composition like McCabe’s, but one that felt new
given that the last time it was played only one band actually mastered
it. Funny how that same band did it again though wasn’t it?
Ten years ago it was very nearly too much for bands, but in 2002
it sounded demanding (very demanding in fact) but within the reach
of the very best bands – and that is just how it should be.
It had the good bits of Wilby in abundance and enough music in it
to satisfy the oldest of old farts. A super piece that finally came
Kensington Concerto – Eric Ball
A real oldie this one – but as our European friends found
out, still a masterful piece of writing and a work that if not treated
with the respect it deserves still has the ability to give a wayward
band and MD who thinks he knows better than the great man, a spanking
of the variety your Daddy could only dish out.
Perhaps not even Eric Ball’s best, but still a very moving
and sensitive work inspired by the annual pilgrimage to the Royal
Albert Hall every October. Used throughout the continent it certainly
made for pleasant listening.
Sicilian Vespers – Verdi arranged Bram Gay
The little Welshman does it again – this time with a cracking
arrangement (not transcription or realisation as the PC brigade
like to call them nowadays). We first heard it last year when Williams
Fairey performed it at the British Open concert under Howard Snell
and it sounded very good (and very hard) then. Written to retain
the original key – hence all those sharps it was also used
for the First Section at the Pontins Championships.
To be truthful it was, and is, too difficult for that level and
should really have been set for the Championships bands, but you
couldn’t get away from the fact that this was a tremendous
bit of work from the arranger and the best orchestral overture arrangement
for us since Howard Snell’s “Waverley” over twenty
– Kenneth Hesketh
The Lower Section National Finals had many highlights (as well
as lowlights), but the one piece that stood out for us was Kenneth
Hesketh’s quirky, witty suite of music, inspired by the 17th
century tunes and customs of courtly Olde England.
All the players and conductors we spoke to thoroughly enjoyed it
– as did the audience and it sounded fresh and challenging
to all the bands. It demanded lots of skill and thought and the
best bands made it sound a real treat. Hesketh remained rather non
plussed by the contest format when we first met him, but by the
end of the 17 performances he was completely bowled over and vowed
to write again for the contesting medium. Now that is something
to look forward to.
Albion – Jan Van der Roost
How to vote....
Make sure you read all the articles
for each category before going to the voting