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Tredegar Band

A Road Less Travelled By in more ways than one as Tredegar shine on showcase form in Reading.


Conductor: Ian Porthouse
British Bandsman Concert Series
Saturday 8th June

As was the case earlier in the day, the attraction of an outstanding ensemble at a wonderful venue was still not enough to draw an audience deserving of the quality of the entertainment provided.

Lessons to be learnt then for the organisers in promoting future events in this series.  It was a huge pity. Tredegar was on very fine form indeed in providing contrasting halves of high class playing. 

They opened with ‘Flight’  by Louisa Trewartha, an evocative propeller burst of excitement inspired by Maude Bonney’s remarkable solo flight from Australia to Britain in 1933.

Substantive

This was the prelude to a substantive first half – one which followed with the UK premiere of Holst’s ‘A Fugal Overture’,  recently recorded for an eagerly awaited CD release in celebration of the composer’s 150th anniversary. 

It was hallmarked by a depth and quality of sound at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, elements of control and refinement, inherently balanced and seemingly effortless.

This allowed the MD to inform his shaping of a cultured rendition of Gavin Higgins’ ‘Fanfares and Love Songs’.  It was a joy – the fanfares fluid and bright, the intertwined love songs both yearning and eerie, a sound wash of textural magic.

It was hallmarked by a depth and quality of sound at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, elements of control and refinement, inherently balanced and seemingly effortless.

John Rutter’s ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’  (dedicated to former players Jeff Thomas and Steve Legge) was a subtle contrast ahead of the UK premiere of the recent European test-piece, ‘A Road Less Travelled By’.  

This was classic Sparke – technically demanding but musically engaging, allowing soloists to shine (notably here with the bluesy flugel of Cerys Hughes) and the ensemble to stun. Both were delivered in full.

Showcase playing

The second half was showcase playing – the ‘Judy Garland Tribute’  a trio of classic songs: the waspishly paced 'Get Happy'  and ‘That’s Entertainment’  top and tailing Dewi Griffiths on belting ‘Over the Rainbow’  form. 

‘Byrdland 400’  (the band’s 2023 Brass in Concert programme) may have been tenuously linked in inspiration, but was all the better for it – featuring classy soloists in Sion Jones (euphonium), Cerys Hughes (flugel) and Ryan Richards (trombone) against some clever genre detours (the pick the ear-worm take on The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’) ending in a thumping bit of 1970s Weather Report.

It was left to a stonking ‘MacArthur Park’  and a sublime ‘Ar Lan y Mor’  to bring an outstanding concert to a close.

Fiona Bennett and John Heritage

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