Reviews - CDs and DVDs

Black Dyke Live - The Armed Man

Black Dyke The Armed Man

The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace and concert.

Black Dyke Band, Halifax Choral Society and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus

This DVD was recorded last April in the Symphony Hall and features Black Dyke along with Halifax Choral Society and the Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus.

 The two halves of the concert briefly comprise a “full” performance of The Armed Man by (and in the presence of) Karl Jenkins, conducted by John Pryce Jones, and then Black Dyke alone with a “heavyweight” but not ground-breaking programme of classic brass band repertoire.

 The DVD is set out in reverse order – in that the second half of the concert is featured first on the disc – The Armed Man is a truly moving and satisfying work. The musical images conjured up by Karl Jenkins of strife, grief, war and peace are brilliantly enhanced by some of the most moving pictures I have ever seen.

 The programme notes are very complete and absolutely essential to get further enjoyment from the works.

Black Dyke are on great form, and they have to be, as they are very much “in the background” for portions of the work – then to the fore with technical and musically taxing solo playing. I can’t remember ever hearing any better playing than that of Alex Kerwin on flugel and David Thornton on euphonium in the “Benedictus”. The vocal soloists drawn from the two choirs are adequate but not outstanding although the combined choirs, ably led by John Pryce Jones are excellent.

 There are some tuning problems here and there between the players and the choir (and organ) in some of this work but these can be forgotten as you let yourself be drawn into this wonderful performance. I am reviewing and not acting as a “critic” here, but I have to say there are several instances of “technical” balance and mixing where soloists and sections are let down, an example is the opening percussion section is inaudible for a time. Nothing to do with ears – purely electronic!

 The “Concert” as it is titled on the disc – features Black Dyke and starts with William Walton’s – Crown Imperial which works well and leads nicely onto Poet and Peasant Overture by Franz von Suppe. Great solo work from David Thornton again here and very good ensemble – although confusingly balanced by the engineers when tutti back row cornet parts seem to take centre stage over the main tune?

 PLC’s Only for you features Paul Duffy on soprano – he shows why he is so much in the spotlight as a young star player. A good soloist needs good accompaniment and he gets it from Dyke here.

 Phillip Wilby’s The Day though Gavest comes next. The whole Euphonium/Baritone section features in the wonderful arrangement – dedicated to my teacher and mentor Geoff Whitham. I really enjoyed this playing – top drawer stuff and so well controlled.

Procession to the Minster – Wagner finishes off the “Concert” – very well played (as it often is by lesser bands)

 I wondered if, what was a “heavy” night in respect of the combined choral/organ and band work to come forced a slightly less adventurous programme for the first half? I know I would have done the same.

 An excellent DVD, worth every penny and more just for The Armed Man alone. I really enjoyed it.

Tracks

The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace, Karl Jenkins, arr. Andrew Wainwright and Duncan Gibbs.     
Black Dyke Band, Halifax Choral Society and Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus     
1. The Armed Man               
2. The Call to Prayers (Adhaan)               
3. Kyrie               
4. Save Me From Bloody Men               
5. Sanctus               
6. Hymn Before Action               
7. Charge!               
8. Angry Flames               
9. Torches               
10. Agnus Dei               
11. Now The Guns Have Stopped               
12. Benedictus               
13. Better is Peace               
14. Crown Imperial, William Walton, arr. Frank Wright.           
15. Poet and Peasant, Franz von Suppe, arr. Howard Lorriman.           
16. Only For You, Paul Lovatt-Cooper, Paul Duffy (Soprano Cornet).      
17. The Day Thou Gavest, Clement Scholefield, arr. Philip Wilby.     
18. Procession to the Minster, Richard Wagner, arr. Howard Snell.     

Gordon Eddison
Bass player with Yorkshire Imperial Metals, Hammonds Sauce Works, YBS
and Carlton Main Frickley - now retired! currently MD of York RI and Otley bands