Black Dyke: A golden year

Discussion in ' User Reviews' started by PeterBale, Mar 8, 2006.

  1. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    I know there have been a couple of references to this recording in another thread but having picked up a copy at the weekend I think it merits one of its own. Featuring Black Dyke in performances of five major works of particular significance in the past year, it is in my view an absolutely stunning achievement. I was able to follow "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" with the score for the first time, and so to spot all sorts of subtleties that are easily missed when hearing it - or even watching it on the DVD from Groningen. Peter Roberts is thrilling throughout, and it leaves me itching to see what the Sop players will make of it at Stevenage!

    "Extreme Makeover" also seems to have more of an edge to it in this studio recording, with the section with the bottles being extremely effective. All of the band seem ready to give it all they've got, and it has the feel and excitement of a live recording, without the inevitable splits that the contest stage throws up. The climaxes are vigorous and exhilerating, contrasting well with the more delicate sections.

    I was unsure about "Northern Lights" when it was featured in the post-contest concert, but hearing it over and over I've come to like it more and more. The band shows tremendous precision in fast-moving unison passages, and the moment where the 1938 band emerges with "Deep harmony" is quite magical.

    The one live performance is their winning version of "The night to sing" from the British Open, picking up on all the various changes of mood very effectively, and even if it was not a vintage day for David Thornton the overall excitement of the occasion soon makes up for the odd dodgy note. They seem to catch the spirit of the dance music particularly well, and it comes over even better than I remember it on the day, where I just had BAYV ahead. The two main climaxes - one about two minutes from the end, that swells up suddenly and back down again, and the other right at the end - are managed beautifully: exciting but not over-exaggerated.

    John Pickard's "Eden" is also given a thrilling reading, with Brett Baker on top form in the tricky role of the serpent. In fact all the soloists play brilliantly throughout, including some excellent work from the percussion, and it is difficult to single out any particular individual or section.

    I know it is very early in the year, but I'd be very surprised if this does not feature strongly in the voting for 2006 CD of the year. If you like hearing major works for band, and even if you've already got some of these duplicated elsewhere, I'd urge you to check this one out, and dig deep in your pocket - it's certainly well worth it!
  2. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    I'd like to endorse Peter's comments. This is a superb CD.

    If you're looking for a recording to demonstrate just how accomplished a modern brass band can sound -- maybe to a serious musician whose opinion of brass bands is not so high -- this would be an excellent choice. All the compositions are of real substance: no apologies are required. The performances showcase the highest standards musically, technically and tonally (as the cognoscente have long expected of Black Dyke).
  3. James Yelland

    James Yelland Active Member

    A very fine album of music indeed, with one blemish. A great pity that even modern recording technology could not erase the neanderthal yelling which disfigures the conclusion of The Night to Sing. A studio recording would have been preferable.
  4. The other son

    The other son Member

    I'm much more of a brass "player" than a brass "listener" - but I must admit, this is probably the first banding CD I've been able to listen to constantly without skipping tracks.

    Actually - now that I think of it - I dont think it's been out of my CD player since we got it :-?
  5. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Picked the cd up at the regionals ( about the only highlight of the day !!! ) and I've had it on constantly since. This is the type of brass music I really enjoy , and the pieces are to me an indication of where the banding movement should be headed in terms of a serious repertoire . Well done to all concerned .
  6. simonbassbone

    simonbassbone Member

    Haven't bought the CD yet but will do soon. Totally agree that this is the way serious band repetoire should be heading, but what are the chances of anyone getting to hear it outside of the major contests and the few brass band festivals? I'm going to hear Dyke shortly in Norwich, will they play anything new and serious? I'd love them to but I'm not expecting it. If the top bands won't promote our best music to the public its no wonder the public think we only play The Floral Dance!!
  7. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    A couple of days ago, I listened to the conclusion of a "Live from Lincoln Centre" concert. The piece being performed was a Piano Concerto and the response from the audience made the cheering at the end of The Night to Sing sound almost tame. Such a response is not limited to brass band contest performances.

    When I read the above quote, I had not yet listened to the CD and was fearful that it would be similar to what I would call a real example of "neanderthal yelling" on the Leyland performance of Eden from the RAH.

    I believe enthusiastic cheering and whistling after an exciting performance is fine and in some ways can even add to a performance, but the horrific screech at the end of Eden totally ruins it for me; it's terrible.

    I also believe that silence, either complete or momentary at the end of a piece such as Resurgam is equally meaningful.

    My only quibble (and it's a minor one) is with the ending of Eden which on this studio recording doesn't raise the hairs on my neck quite like David King and YBS did in October (would love to be able to hear that again).

    Having said that, I agree with the general theme of this thread; this CD is phenomenal.
  8. Darth_Tuba

    Darth_Tuba Active Member

    Whilst I agree, I don't think you can blame the band. Also, I doubt this was the only (or even the worst) example of this at the RAH.
  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It possibly could be done with some of Cedar Audio's tools, either by the engineers or the Cedar Bureaux. It can be quite time consuming and to buy the tools is horrendously expensive - which may remove the justification solely on the basis of cost.
  10. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    There is also the argument - which you may or may not agree with ;) - that the in-hall reaction is part and parcel of the experience, and an essential part of a live recording. I must say that I didn't find it too distracting, no more so than knowing that the odd blips of the live performance would crop up each time of listening!
  11. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    My preference is that it gets left in (along with Mr Jones and his bronchitis :( ) if it's designed to be a live recording...I guess I was just pointing out that the tools do exist in Retouch ;)
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Although, going one further than that, I do find it irritating when Rent-a-crowd start up before we've reached figure ZZ ;)

    [and just to counteract the off-topicness, I should say I'm just about to order it to have a listen :D]
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2006
  13. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Certainly wasn't blaming the band and I can't really comment on any other examples because this is the only one I've heard since the RAH. I'll admit it didn't hit me the same way in the hall; I personally just found it really annoying on the CD "Eden" and mentioned it only as a comparison for the comment made in relation to this discussion.

    I also agree with the previous comments that a "Live" recording is just that and that extraneous sounds should be left in (unless it's an exploding light bulb in Nottingham ;) ).

    Black Dyke: A Golden Year is an outstanding CD and I for one look forward to more such releases.

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