Reviews - CDs and DVDs

In Tribute the music of Philip Wilby

In tribute Philip Wilby

In Tribute

The Music of Philip Wilby

Black Dyke Band

Musical Director Dr. Nicholas Childs



Philip Wilby graduated from Keble College, Oxford in 1970 and, after a year as a professional violinist, he was invited to join the music staff at Leeds University where, following a Doctorate

in composition, he was made a Professor in 2002. He has had a long association with Black Dyke and as a thank you to the band and especially to Nicholas Childs, he composed A Breathless Alleluia,

which opens this tribute disc. The work for band and organ (the organ played by the composer himself)  is live1y with driving energy throughout.

Commissioned by the BBC, Paganini Variations was subsequently used as the test piece for the I991 British Open Contest. Following the opening flourish (played as clean as a whistle) and Paganini's theme, the level of virtuosity is raised dramatically. The cornet Bolero, the euphonium solo and the pure sound of the flugel horn are superb. So too is the Romance, which shows Philip Wilby at his melodic best, whilst the dynamic final bars complete a very fine performance.

Written for Mrs Margaret Mortimer for use at the 1993 British 0pen Contest, Masquerade is a centenary homage to the last of Giuseppe Verdi's operas Falstaff, which was first performed in 1893. The piece embraces the spirit and melody of Verdi and follows the last scene of the opera as Falstaff is about to get his comeuppance by the ladies of the town disguised in Halloween masks. The music is difficult (certain phrases have been described as being on the edge of playability), but Black Dyke take it in their stride and produce a splendid performance.

The score of Revelation Symphony for Double Brass is unusual for the band is divided into two choirs, to the left and right of the percussion section, with each member given a distinct part. Composed for the 1995 British Open Contest, the music is derived from a theme of Henry Purcell, and is a tribute to that great English composer on the 300th anniversary of his death. The work falls into five sections; Prologue, Variations on a ground bass (1), Fugue, Variations (2) and Epilogue and Resurrection. The musical and technical difficulties are delivered with staggering virtuosity and this magnificent performance is a credit to Nicholas Childs and the players.

Interspersed between Paganini Variations and Masquerade is an interesting conversation between Philip Wilby and Paul Hindmarsh, who also wrote the informative programme notes.

The disc is an excellent tribute to a composer who has given the brass band repertory some wonderful and thrilling music to enjoy.


1. A Breathless Alleluia, Philip Wilby, with Philip Wilby (Organ), [4.10]
2. Paganini Variations, Philip Wilby, [16.42]
3. In conversation, Philip Wilby and Paul Hindmarsh, [12.44]
4. Masquerade, Philip Wilby, [13.01]
5. Revelation, Philip Wilby, [18.44]


Sydney Swancott