Reviews - CDs and DVDs

Highlights from the European Brass Band Championships 2018

European Champs - 2018 CROPPED 0001


Various bands and soloists from this contest.

Doyen Label: DOY CD384




Utrecht in the Netherlands was the venue for the 2018 European Brass Band Championships presents live recordings of a selection of the main events held on the weekend of 4 - 6 May. Youth is brought to the fore with nine of the seventeen tracks featuring youth brass bands.

The European Youth Brass Band, directed by Ivan Meylemans, open CD1 with a rousing performance of Kevin Larsson's festival march Temple 125. Member of the band are drawn from all quarters of Europe and they equip themselves very well under their inspirational conductor. Three further tracks are featured: Partita (1st movement) by Philip Sparke that goes at a cracking pace. Gavin Higgins lovelyIvory Ghosts which provides a moment of calm and they are joined by the brass quintet K.O. Brass, the somewhat surreal Pretty Drugged Fairy by Roman Bly.

Wardle Academy Youth Band's winning programme in the Development Section of the European Youth Brass Band contest, directed by Lee Rigg, including an excellent performance of the test piece, Philip Sparke's Valerius Variations and a full toned presentation of James Curnow's Fanfare and Flourishes, which opens CD2.

Skage Rollheim of Tasta Skolekorps, conducted by Morten Ovrebekk, was awarded best instrumentalist in the development section for his marimba solo of the delightful Sugaria by Eric Sammut.  

In the Premiere Section of the Youth Contest, Youth Brass 2000's winning programme included a splendidly detailed reading by their conductor Chris Jeans of the test piece Michael Ball's Chaucer's Tunes and Paul McGhee's funk inspired The Long Way Home, which they clearly enjoyed playing.

The test piece for the Challenge Section, Mystic Echoes by Hendrik de Boer, requires a band with stamina which the Italian Brass Band had in spades. Conducted by Filippo Cangiamila they produced a performance of quality to easily win the section, with principal cornet Francesco Crivello being awarded the best soloist. On the standard of this performance surely the band should now be invited to compete in the championship section?

Simon Dobson's composition The Turing Test was the choice of Valaisia Brass Band in the own choice section of the European Championships. Inspired by the early work in computer science and artificial intelligence, Dobson's demanding score is given a clinically superb performance by Valaisia, directed by Arsene Duc. It was also notable for the impressive trombone and soprano playing. The band won the own choice section gaining a score of 99 points and with a combined score of 195 acquired the European crown.

Second place in the own choice section was awarded to Hauts-de-France, conducted by Luc Vertommen, who performed Philip Sparke'sPerihelion: Closer to the Sun. This was an immaculate performance that had clarity, delicacy along with controlled dynamics. Notable was the work of the soloists, with a special mention of the euphonium and smoothness of the trombone.

Time for Outrage was the set test for the 2018 contest. Originally written by Marko Putz for military band it was adapted for brass band especially for the contest by Paul McGhee. This three movement work begins with 'Breaking Silence' followed by 'Troubled' and finally 'Rock the Culprits'. Cory's opening is only just audible but builds evenly to produce dramatic effects, climaxes measured to perfection, controlled dynamic range and soloists who excel all lead to a stunning finale and completion of a magnificent performance that won the test piece section of the contest.

The gala concert wa a celebration of European culture and completing this first class double album are Capella de la Torre with sixteenth century music Pavana / Galiarda by Anthony Holborne and Eikanger-Bjorsvik Musikklag under Reid Gilje with Frederick Schjederup's clinical Dark Abyss, La Muerta del Angel (Piazzolla arr: Svein H. Giske) is delivered with precision and in Astor Piazzolla's Oblivion they give good support to Adam Rapa (Trumpet).

This album is enhanced with first class recording engineers Adam Goldsmith and Melissa Dee.


CD 1:

1. Temple 125 (Kevin Larsson) - European Youth Brass Band

2. Mystic Echoes (Hendrik de Boer) - Italian Brass Band

3. Partita (1st movement) (Philip Sparke) - European Youth Brass Band

4.  Ivory Ghosts (Gavin Higgins) - European Youth Brass Band

5. Valerius Variations (Philip Sparke) - Wardle Academy Youth Band 

6. Pretty Drugged Fairy (Romain Bly) - K.O.Brass! and European Youth Brass Band

7. Dark Abyss (Fredrick Schjelderup) - Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag

8. Sugaria (Eric Sammut arr. Reid Gilje) - Soloist: Skage Rollheim with Tasta Skolekorps

9. The Turing Test (Simon Dobson) - Valaisia Brass Band

CD 2:

1. Fanfare and Flourishes (James Curnow) - Wardle Academy Youth Band

2. Perihelion: Closer to the Sun (Philip Sparke) - Hauts-de-France Brass Band

3. Pavana/Galiarda (Anthony Holborne) - Capella de la Torre

4. The Long Way Home (Paul McGhee) - Youth Brass 2000

5. Chaucer's Tunes (Peter Graham) - Youth Brass 2000

6. Oblivion (Astor Piazzolla) - Soloist: Adam Rapa with Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag

7. La Muerte del Angel (Thierry Deleruyelle) - Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag

8. Time for Outrage! (Marco Pütz adpt. Paul McGhee) - Cory Band

Sydney Swancott