Reviews - CDs and DVDs

From the Mountains to the Downs

From the Mountains to the Downs

CWS (Manchester) Band (cond: Alex Mortimer)
GUS (Footwear) Band (cond: Stanley Boddington)
Black Dyke Mills Band (cond: Major Peter Parkes)

Doy CD 321

The CD features music especially written or arranged for specific competitions which were originally recorded on LPs between 1963 and I976.

In 1962 the CWS (Manchester) Band won its first National Championship title with Frank Wright's arrangement of Verdi's The Force of Destiny and subsequently recorded the work in 1963. The flair of conductor Alex Mortimer is evident throughout in this thrilling performance of a piece which, at that time, was considered to be difficult.

Four years later G.U.S. (Footwear) Band, conducted by Stanley Boddington recorded Le Carnival Romain (Berlioz, arranged by Frank Wright) following its winning performance in the previous year's National. The euphonium melody is expressive (played by Trevor Groom), when suddenly a flurry of scales electrifies the atmosphere and the carnival is in full swing.

CWS (Manchester) Band won the 1966 September Belle Vue contest and its recording of the test piece, A Downland Suite (John Ireland) was released in 1968. The four movements are subtitled Prelude, that has a strong purpose Elegy, in which Alex Mortimer coaxes a wonderful climax before allowing the music to fade away, Minuet that dances with a dignified elegance and Rondo that brings the work to a satisfying conclusion.

Eric Ball's Rhapsody for Brass Band, High Peak was composed for the I969 National Championship Contest. The music falls into four main sections: Vision, Aspiration, Ascent and Attainment. One week before the contest Black Dyke Mills Band, conducted by Geoffrey Brand, recorded the piece, the LP being released in I97O. This fine band performance benefits from some notable playing by James Shepherd and John Clough.

James Cook, Circumnavigator was Gilbert Vinter's last composition. It was commissioned for the New Zealand Brass Band Association to commemorate the Cook Bicentenary in 1970. One of the most descriptive works written for brass bands it graphically describes Cook's voyage to New ZeaIand. G.U.S. conducted by Stanley Boddington produce a powerful comprehensive performance that is noteworthy for its clarity of detail and expression. The recording was released in I972.

Un Vie De Matelot (A Sailors Life) by Robert Farnon was commissioned for the 1975 National Championship Contest. The composer, a Canadian, derived the works theme from the French-Canadian folk music he had heard in his younger days. Conducted by Major Peter Parkes, Black Dyke Mills Band won the title and this scintillating performance, which includes exquisite solos by Philip McCann and John Clough, was released 1n 1976.

There will be many happy memories whilst listening to these epic recordings compiled by Tim Mutum, who also wrote the excellent programme notes.



1. Overture: The Force of Destiny  - CWS (Manchester) Band (Alex Mortimer) (Verdi Wright)  [7.14]
2. Overture Le Carnival Romain  - GUS (Footwear) Band (Stanley Boddington) (Berlioz Wright)  [9.15]
3. A Downland Suite  - CWS (Manchester) Band (lex Mortimer) (John Ireland)  [16.35]
4. Rhapsody for Brass Band: High Peak  - Black Dyke Mills Band (Geoffrey Brand) (Eric Ball)  [11.56]
5. James Cook Circumnavigator  - GUS (Footwear) Band (Stanley Boddington) (Gilbert Vinter)  [10.48] 
6. Un Vie De Matelot (A Sailors Life)  - Black Dyke Mills Band (Major Peter Parkes) (Robert Farnon)  [11.15]

Sydney Swancott