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Tredegar Band

Conductor: Ian Porthouse
Soloist: Yu-Han Yang
Compere: Andrew McGregor
Prom 32: Royal Albert Hall
London
Tuesday 9th August


(Image: Copyright Chris Christodoulou/Tredegar Band)


“Bring them back soon”. 

That was the 5-star verdict of Fiona Maddocks of ‘The Observer’ newspaper after Tredegar followed its acclaimed Proms debut 24 hours earlier with the National Orchestra of Wales with this commanding display of brass band showmanship.

This though was no variety hall act to play up to any perceived stereotypes an increasingly engrossed, and finally raucous audience may have first arrived with for the 10.15pm start time.

Not one but two demanded encores spoke of satisfaction levels based on superbly delivered performances of Strauss, Berlioz and Vaughan Williams, let alone Billy May, Judy Garland and that double helping of choreographed evangelical joyfulness.

Diversity

The programme had been planned to encapsulate the musical diversity of the modern brass band; the polished ‘Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare’  leading into a sparkling ‘Le Corsaire’  played with flamboyant precision.

Three anniversaries were marked. 

This though was no variety hall act to play up to any perceived stereotypes an increasingly engrossed, and finally raucous audience may have first arrived with for the 10.15pm start time.

The 150th of Vaughan Williams came with the delicate flow of ‘Rhosymedre’  and a sumptuous ‘Variations for Brass Band’,  majestic and tenderly noble. It was balanced by a cleverly conceived triptych tribute of Judy Garland classics (with principal cornet Dewi Griffiths taking the solo spotlight) and a linked brace to tip the hat at Elmer Bernstein – both 100 years after their birth.

The wow factor came with Yu-Han Yang on Philip Wilby’s ‘Zeibekikos’  – complete with plate smashing exclamation mark close, and the fizzing cornet led ‘Brassmen’s Holiday’.

Inspired

That though was the taster, as the inspired inclusion of ‘The Devil in I’  by the American thrash metal band Slipknot simply blew the roof off - almost literally. 

“To watch Porthouse beat a neat, nimble four, as if in a regular march… was a lesson in sangfroid. He could conduct any mainstream rival off the podium,”

“To watch Porthouse beat a neat, nimble four, as if in a regular march… was a lesson in sangfroid. He could conduct any mainstream rival off the podium,” wrote Maddocks, as the blood red lighting enhanced the dramatic spectacle (as it did throughout), catching the audience by the throat like a strangler’s grip. 

The cheers had hardly died down before they added the bombast coda of ‘MacArthur Park’  – driven with pulsating energy and that “exuberant” repeat of ‘Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus'  to leave the brass band stereotypes blown far away into the midnight Kensington skies.

Thanks to Tredegar, hopefully they won't return any time soon. 

Christopher Davies

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