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Retrospective Report

Dutch Brass Band Championships
Saturday 7th December 2002
Championship Section

The contest, of note for its wonderful cordiality, saw eight bands take the stage of the Matiniplaza in Gronignen to play Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) Opus 173 by Derek Bourgeois. A most testing composition surprisingly it was not, in the main, the demanding technical lines or the awkward key signature changes (like 6 sharps) that found bands out but more often occasional solo lines of subtle scoring.

The draw was completed at 16.00hrs and the contest commenced at 19.15hrs with Brassband Rijnmond under the direction Erik Jansen. Nerves perhaps played a part as they opened rather nervously causing some important linking semis to just lack the flow that they should have had. Settling the band took the Presto [9] very well with some undeniably committed playing this only unsettled with some loose unison playing in the lower band [18]. Things got a little rushed and with less than seamless phrasing in the Allegro con Brio [30] however the horns were commendable [31] with style and refinement. A decent standard set then by the band from the "Rijnmond" region (greater Rotterdam) but a final placing of 7th.

The home team Provinciale Brassband Groningen, under their conductor Siemen Hoeksta, played with refined musicianship and sensitivity and were completely persuasive bringing magnetism to the music. The lower band played exceptionally well, as did the horns. In particular the band showed class with the ff [10] and wonderful dynamics all through notably before [25] and [29] where the pp was really well controlled. Draw number 2 and this was the one to beat we felt.

Benny Wiame and the Brass Band Schoonhoven performance had maybe one or two too many slips to claim top spot but in this 4th place performance the cornet section produced some good unison playing and again this was another performance benefited from some stylish horn playing. The band worked hard in rehearsal up to this contest and the best playing from this came through in the 11/8 passage [17], the section following the fff [31] and well the balanced and controlled ending from 3rd in the draw.

4th on the platform Brassband Limburg, under the baton of Frans Violet, didn't feel at ease at the start of the piece and it rocked a little as a result but this was swept away with a quality and concerted marcato [3]. This then set the pattern for their performance that probably suffered more at the hands of balance than any other musical weaknesses.

De Bazuin conductor Klaas van der Woude gained the runners-up place with a performance, playing 5th, that took lots of risks especially with tempo but this made it undeniably exiting throughout. Percussion had a day of note with some excellent playing as all through. The MD went looking for the atmosphere of the composer's inspiration (Lake Geneva) and achieved a quality performance.

The contest pushed on into the evening when 6th in the draw Soli Brass took the stage. With dynamics perhaps on the upper side at the start the piece took a little time to settle and the MD chose to draw back the ending which differed from other performances. The percussion was brought forward [13] and was reasonably performed but as we commented in our introduction, it was the drops in solo lines which upset a generally solid performance.

De Wâldsang settled quickly after tentative opening. The flugel sound in the triplets [6] had a distinctly horn feel about it as things moved along quite steadily. The bass solo playing [19] was top draw stuff and the band played particularly well through this passage and capped this with one of the best interpretations of the day with the fff at [23]. A fine ending epitomised a performance played with lots of enjoyment and elan deserving its place in the frame.

Almost 22.00hrs and Altena Brass took the stage and never quite felt at ease with the music. The best playing unquestionably came from the basses [19] and this continued through to [21] and the major key change. A not unsatisfying performance which unfortunately had a few too many errors on the day which was a shame.

Well we pitched are hat into the ring at the end of the section and went for the spontaneous performance of 'De Bazuin in 1st place with Provinciale Brassband Groningen as runners-up and got it the wrong way round ! (Surprise surprise) but with that, we headed for the after contest fun in the bar where we mingled with the players and friends with good humour long into the night at the end of a happy and most enjoyable Championships.

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