Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by John Brooks, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Over the past few days I have been listening again to Checkmate, the music of Sir Arthur Bliss arranged by Eric Ball, played by Yorkshire Imperial, conducted by Denis Carr in 1979. Imps won the National with their performance of this piece in 1978 and this was the subsequent studio recording.

    It doesn't appear to have been used much, if at all, since. Any opinions on the music? Have you played it? What is your opinion of Eric Ball's arrangement?

    It sounds like a real blow and I wonder what it would sound like performed by today's top bands.
  2. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It was used at the Grand Shield a few years ago.

    It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination - particularly for the solo trom in the slow movement (something to do with "Red Bishops" iirc?).

    The last movement is used occasionally as a finisher for entertainment contests...
  3. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    This is brilliant music IMO. I loved it when I played it many years ago and I still love it now. It is difficult to play well, but well worth the effort. Bliss' music is much underrated.
  4. Flugelmahorn

    Flugelmahorn Member

    I played it in the Grand Shield in 2002. A tough piece of music and needs bags of stamina to survive the "excitement" of the finale without going to OTT on dynamics.

    The requirements for the Shield that year was that one of the movements, "The Red Knight's Muzurka" was dropped.

    I really enjoyed working on the piece. Full of drama.
  5. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Someone put me out of my misery and reming me what the movement with the Trom bit in it's called...hopefully I've got the right piece for the solo :rolleyes:....I've played all of it in concert (once, about 10 years ago), but I'm very familiar with the Finale (Besses played it twice at Brass in Concert - once in, er, about 1984 and the other with Derek Broadbent in either '95 or '96, when there was a slight mishap at the end :oops: ). Incidentally, they were also 2nd with it in London in 1978 - Dr Newsome's first contest with the Band I think, when they drew No 1.
  6. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... here's a link to all the movements Bliss wrote for the concert suite ...

    Eric Ball arranged only four of them ...

    1. Dance Of The Four Knights
    2. The Red Knight's Mazurka
    3. Ceremony Of The Red Bishops
    4. Finale - Checkmate

    ... there is a good recording of Checkmate by The Sun Life Band (Roy Newsome & Bryan Hurdley) from 1991 (CD 'Le Roi d'Ys' on the Stanshawe Label, STA002CD).

    (Other pieces on the CD include Le Roi d'Ys, Ragtimes & Habaneras, California Legend and Bliss's The Belmont Variations. Band is in great form throughout!)
  7. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Cool. Thanks for that.

    Any ideas if it can still be sourced?

    I've got some painful memories of LeeRoy Dice as well...although for the Euph Solo in Belmont Variations, I still think Graham McEvoy's rendition on the Besses CD Showcase for Brass is hard to beat.
  8. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  9. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Thanking you :D
  10. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

    ... I'm just surprised there are still copies left for sale! :eek:
  11. Must agree, Checkmate is one of my personal favourites. I don't think the orchestral music gets much of an outing now (along with the rest of Bliss's work) but the band piece shows what can be done with an excellent arrangement of a fairly little known work.

    Rather calls into question the current trend of 're-arranging / re-scoring' old orchestral transcriptions which are already in the brass band repertoire, as these invariably tend to be rubbish! (imho)

    Surely there are equally good arrangers / transcribers out there who could produce similar arrangements of other 'forgotten' orchestral pieces? Maybe this already happens but they just don't get the publicity or competition selection anymore?

    A few other little known orchestral works which have been transcribed as classic band pieces which are some of my favourites;

    'The Accursed Huntsman - Franck arr. Seibert'
    'Suite Gothique - Boellmann arr. Ball'

    I was sure I had a longer list but can't think of them now, Please help!
  12. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Hi Richard.

    Check out the Ord Hume arrangement of Scheherezade if you can't remember it. 'Tis in the library somewhere and is vastly superior to the (?Drake) Rimmer arrangement. It isn't easy though ;)

    There are the obvious arrangements of the Berlioz overtures. Geoffrey Brand's arrangement of Dvorak's Carnival Overture is another personal favourite (although the sextuplets topwards the end are a nightmare :D).

    Something more modern I really enjoyed playing was the arrangement of the Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn that was used for the Area several years ago. Maybe not a classic, but it was nice to play.

    Trying to swerve vaguely back on topic, a lot of these things are superficially easy but take a good band to pull them off. As the original poster said, I wonder what a lot of them would sound like played by today's bands....
  13. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    And while I think about it, don't forget about the veritable goldmine of Owen Stuff you're sat on...

    Rossini's Works always was a great finisher (but probably not all 23 minutes of it, although there are some good edits available) that are familiar and ends with The Galop from William Tell.
  14. Chris Sanders

    Chris Sanders Active Member

    Am I the only person who didnt like checkmate...?? :confused:

    Played it in the Grand Sheild a few years ago... Did'nt enjoy reheasing or performing it, I found it really boring...
  15. Er, well you seem to be on your own so far? I guess there must be some others who don't like it! But not me, I think it's great! Sorry.
  16. Thanks for all the reminders Keith.
    I seem to remember there's a good arrangement of Svendsen's 'Norwegian Carnival' as well (Edrich Seibert again!) and of course the supposed transcription of the orchestral piece 'Diadem of Gold', although the controversy surrounding whether it's a real orchestral piece or not is another story!
  17. bassinthebathroom

    bassinthebathroom Active Member

    The Owen arrangements really are a shining example of excellent orchestration, even today. Both pieces have, if I'm not wrong, been used within the last few years by the NYBBGB.
    In addition to these wonderful arrangements, JAGRINS also publishes some marvellous arrangements of classical music by some more 'contemporary' arrangers! The new-look website should be up and running soon with full details, aswell as audio clips...
  18. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    I tried ordering the Sun Life CD's listed on their website and was advised that they no longer have a supply. I've seen some on E-Bay once or twice but have not had any luck.

    There are a number of excellent arrangements and/or transcriptions in the SA catalog including: Kaleidoscope (Music of Rimsky-Korsakov, arr. Brian Bowen), Italian Symphony (Mendelssohn, arr. Dean Goffin), Symphony No.5 (Schubert, arr. Brian Bowen). Also Prelude in C# Minor (Rachmaninoff, arr. ??), Fantasia (Mozart, arr. Sir Malcolm Sargent) from other publishers....................but, I digress from my own topic :)

    Thanks for all the feedback re Checkmate.
  19. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Other stuff you've got in there (if you're into the older repertoire like myself) are a lot of the arrangements by Charles Godfrey done for the major championships before the advent of formal test pieces. A particular favourite of mine is a Selection from "I Lombardi" by Verdi.

    I guess a lot of the problem with this kind of piece is that they contain tunes and, contentious this, that's what makes them IMHO harder to play than some of the modern stuff (I'd reference Rienzi as a case in point).
  20. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    Just for spelling correction here
    Le Roi D'ys
    it is the name of my house and its nice to see it spelt the right way !:tup

Share This Page