Reviews - CDs and DVDs

Pictures - Black Dyke Band


Black Dyke Band 

Conductor: Dr. Nicholas Childs

Doyen: DOYCD299




Black Dyke spend a lot of time in the recording studio and it shows. Firstly, this is another excellent offering with a programme that is well planned to appeal to a wide audience, and secondly it is technically superb in execution. Nick Childs allows the music to tell its own story in this recording and I felt that the need to have ‘clean’ performances wasn’t at the expense of musicality and expression.

The first item is Four Minute Mile by Judith Bingham is clearly a nod towards the London Olympics. A great starter (no pun intended) that is a fast pace romp. The piece is cleverly split into the different laps of the race and after the players set off quickly the second lap brings some beautiful melodic playing which is backed all the way by a very ‘busy’ percussion section. The bell sounds to signal the last lap and the band make a dash, albeit very controlled, to an exciting finish. A really enjoyable piece of what is essentially ‘programme music’. I like this and hope it re-appears on programmes.

Pure Gold is written for Band, Choir and Narrator. This work was written within the remit of the “2012 Cultural Olympiad” by Luke Carver Goss and features “The Bard of Barnsley – Ian Mc Millan who has brought his thoughts about school sports days to the piece and joined by The Manchester Chorale. The piece is a ‘relay’ in that band hands over to narrator and onto the chorus ........  This piece is a must listen to.

My opening comment about superb execution really sums up the performance of The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – I heard the band ‘live’ in the St George’s Hall at the Yorkshire Area and heard them at their best and this studio version is pretty close. Technically superb it still has the excitement that Derek Bourgeois’ music always brings.

Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky takes over half the playing time in this recording.

Fortunately any chances of overload of one style or genre is nearly overcome by the varied ‘pictures’ on show.  Elgar Howarth has blended his brass band roots experience with his professional side in the orchestral world and his ‘classic’ arrangement is the industry standard. I have always thought that Mussorgsky is well-suited to the sound and tone of a brass band and the 19 images portrayed jump from one style to another with skill. The orchestral sound of a great trombone and bass end are ‘stand-out’ in this offering.

Pick of this exhibition for me is Baba Yaga – awesome playing.

There are excellent programme notes and biographies of the performers and this is a must have inclusion in any brass listener’s library.  


1. Four Minute Mile, Judith Bingham, [3.27]
2. Pure Gold - A 4 x 4 Relay, Luke Carver Goss, Ian McMillan (Narrator) with The Manchester Chorale, [13.27]
3. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Derek Bourgeois, [16.59]
Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky, arr. Elgar Howarth
4. Promenade 1, [1.38]
5. The Gnome, [2.43]

6. Promenade 2, [0.55]
7. The Old Castle, [5.11]
8. Promenade 3, [0.32]
9. The Tuilerie Gardens, [0.57]
10. Bydlo, [3.20]
11. Promenade 4, [0.50]
12. Ballet of Chicks in their Shells, [1.13]
13. Two Jews,[2.22]
14. Promenade 5, [1.33]
15. The Weekly Market at Limoges, [1.22]
16. The Catacombs, [2.07]
17. With the Dead in a Language Dead, [1.53]
18. Baba Yaga, [3.39]
19. The Great Gate of Kiev, [5.35]

Gordon Eddison