Compairing Pictures ( at an Exhibition )

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by nickjones, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    After a recomendation on TMP , I bought the greatest hits of the PJBE.
    after listening to the Howard Snell and BBS interpretation of the Elgar Howarth arrangement and compairing it to the PJBE .
    I personally prefer the BBS version , there is just more colour in the score , the playing is of a fantastic standard. the arrangement is brilliant ( as most people know Pictures was originally a piano work , and the E.H transcriptions ( for Orchestral brass and a Brass Band version ) has been compared to be as good as the Ravel Orchestral transcription ).
    On listening to the recordings It sounds like BBS have a real versatile approach to the music ( subtle use of vibrato , different approach to Dynamic contrasts ) , which is lacking in the PJBE recording.
    Just my own opinion , anybody have any thoughts on this?
  2. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    I Haven't heard the PJBE version, however the BBS version is sublime, Dave King on sop is wonderful, a fine touch of delicate playing and then power at the end.
  3. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Though I marginally prefer the BBS version too, what must be remembered is that at the time, (1977), the PJBE's recording was ground breaking. Nothing on such a scale had been attempted before by a brass ensemble (Howarth based his brass ensemble version scoring on Gunther Schuller's Symphony for Brass and Percussion of 1950). In his review of the recording, Edward Greenfield of Gramophone suggested that the PJBE couldn't possibly give such a wonderful performance live. Greenfield admitted his mistake after hearing PJBE perform it at the Proms a year later. I saw them perform it at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in August 1981 and their performance drew a standing ovation and in my opinion, was superior to their recording!

    I also think that in 1977, (and not wishing to be detrimental) no brass band of the time would have got anywhere near that piece. The arrival of the likes of Howard Snell upped the standard of bands in this country considerably. I also think that of those bands I've been lucky enough to hear over the years, live or recorded, not even the present day YBS, fantastic though they are, or Dyke under Parkes in the mid 1980s can match BBS under Snell in the early 1990s. Their Pictures at an Exhibition CD is my top brass band recording.

    Just my view, though! ;-)
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Having said that, if the group that were formed out of PJBE (London brass) were to make a recording of Pictures now, brilliant though they are, they'd be hard pressed to better the BBS version!

    The only other version I've heard was recorded in the late 80s by the Wallace Collection on the now defunct Collins Classics label and whilst passages of that were quite stunning, the Great Gate of Kiev sounded like a race against the clock!

    I'll shut up now, promise! ;-)
  5. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    I would love to see another recording of the Planets ( holst trans Stephen Roberts ) , maybe with French horns. would give an authentic sound.
    The PJBE CD is amazing , like Dave has pointed out the Pictures recording was groundbreaking in 1977 and I have to agree bands were just getting to grips with " Modern Music " like connotations , vivat regina and other pieces and to undertake a pictures recording would have been impossible.
  6. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Oh no! Look, Nick has just advocated French horns in brass bands, like I did!

    Listen, Nick, we'd better run and hide. The brass band AFS (Anti French horn society) has already issued a fatwa** against us... ;-))

    **though in brass band terms, this is known as a 'fat warbly vibrato' (Just joking..... ;-))

    p.s. Nick, I wasn't slagging off bands in the 70s, just that standard has improved so much since then! ;-)
  7. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    Hell fatwa will stop me from....bang!!!!!! :lol:
    phew it missed.
    it's evolution , bout time we had a bit of change now and again.
    personally I would love to have a 2nd sop or a picc trumpet in a band along with an extra trombone and additional horn ( to thicken the sound of the middle of a band ) , I played Lowry Sketchbook years ago with the National youth Brass Band of Wales and the Picc Trumpet playing of Chris Turner in Peel Park was brilliant ( everyone who knows the piece will know the sop / picc figure )
    Find it even now after playing with bands for years , we have to look abroad for invention and inspiration.

    I think the BBS recording of pictures is brilliant , I think we should have more recordings of major works. either in Orchestral brass or Traditional brass band form..
  8. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Whilst I like both versions of Pictures, I think the ensemble version wins it for me, particularly with the colour brought by the piccolo trumpets, giving a brightness that is simply not there in the same way with a single sop on the top.
  9. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    That is what I like about the BBS Version is that the sop carries off the picc part with ease ( no bad note production problems either ) , it sounds more polished , and obviously the sound of BBS is much richer ( suppose the extra players help)....I suppose it's personal preference , I like both , Maybe it would be interesting to hear a brass band version with maybe one or two French Horns..
  10. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    To hear French horns in this music, why not stick to the original orchestral version -- it's way better! And are you boys thinking that "Pictures" is to be preferred in one of the all-brass versions, i.e. better than the celebrated Ravel orchestration (I know there are others)? Or is it just the thrill of hearing what clever brass players can do?
  11. nickjones

    nickjones Active Member

    the Elgar Howarth transcription has been compaired to the Ravel version ( which is an arrangement as Pictures was originally written for Piano and never scored for Orchestra by Mussgorksy ) If you wanted the original why not listen to the piano version .
    that wasn't my point , I just prefer the Brass Band recording and version of Pictures , there is not much works written for brass where you can compare in a Brass Band Version and A " Brass Ensemble " at the end of the day they are both brass bands , just that one set uses french horns , picc trumpets etc.

    I would just like to hear a Hybrid if that is the correct term of the best of Brass Bands mixed with things from Orchetral Brass , playing or recording a work like pictures or the planets ( holst trans stephen roberts ) or the Howard Snell transcriptions of " The Pines of Rome " or "Roman Festivals" .
  12. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    I like the piano version. Just jealous I can't play it! :cry:
  13. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    The main thing here is to day that is nigh on impossible to compare the two.

    Despite steady changes, banders and orchestral players still have a very different approach. PJBE's work on it was groundbreaking: I may be wrong here but this must have been the first time that the a brass ensemble had taken on a work of such scale and colour. My brother used to listen to this recording constantly and am sure it had a major impact on him deciding to take up music full time.

    BBS were an awesome band - I think the mentioned recording of 'Pictures' and their 'Year of the Dragon' CD shows up all that was so great about them. In my view, if they are not regarded as the 'best' of all time, they must be the most versatile.

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