Coventry Variations

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by pantarheipaul, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. pantarheipaul

    pantarheipaul Member

    I'm looking for information arround the Coventry Variations by B. Tovey.
    Have there been articles on 4barsrest?
    Or somewhere else?

  2. ian perks

    ian perks Active Member

    there have been some reviews on 4BR about it well worth looking up .It was used for 1st section regional contests in 2004.
    Its a brilliant piece as well to play and to listen to:clap:
  3. SteveDunster

    SteveDunster New Member

    I understand that Bramwell Tovey wrote it to depict the wartime bombing of Coventry.

    It is a brilliantly clever piece of writing (imo). It takes one of the most beautiful and gentle of themes (Coventry Carol), which reminds us of the happiest of seasons - then he does indescribable violence to it!

    The emotional content of this work is extreme. Without doubt this is a work depicting the horror and fear and emotional scarring associated with widespread devastation brought about by violent intent.

    I have a huge amount of respect for how Tovey has honed this work - but he describes it so articulately, I don't much like the emotions I experience with this piece. Wonderfully powerful work and, important though the message is, - like Speilberg's film Schinlder's List - I don't often get the piece out, too emotionally draining.

    Deep respect to Bramwell Tovey!
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2007
  4. Daniel Sheard

    Daniel Sheard Member

    You're joking I assume! Ever read the words?
  5. SteveDunster

    SteveDunster New Member

    I did say the "theme"! (not the "words")

    ...which is gentle in its flowing lines - unlike the angular thematic works later in the variations. And the traditional harmonies that go with this "theme" are beautiful - unlike the some of the stressful harmonic constructs of some of the variations.

    So, no I wasn't joking - but you knew that ;)

    ...and I acknowledge your totally valid observation that even the words that would go with the theme, have powerful resonances for the work - i.e. a mournful lullaby decrying state-sponsored murder of young innocents.

    Thank you Daniel

  6. MartinT

    MartinT Member

    Paul, didn't your band play this as an own-choice test piece at a contest in Oxford a few years ago? Or was it at the concert you did the night before?

    We did it for the Areas in 2004... Wonderful last movement (my wife disagrees with that statement!), bass line very hard to play correctly, and we reckon it was rehearsing the piece that got us chucked out of our then rehearsal venue :(
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2007
  7. Gorgie boy

    Gorgie boy Member

    I first heard the piece played by London Citadel Band on their UK tour towards the end of the 1990's if i remember correctly. Bram Tovey then revised the score for use at the areas.

    I think it was written for Coventry City SA Band although I might be wrong about that. Peter Bale will know................ ;)
  8. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Thanks for that vote of confidence!!!

    As far as I am aware, there was no actual link with Coventry City, and the piece was written specifically for London (Ontario)'s UK tour. (Edit: see below!!!) I haven't got my folders with me in work, but I would have said it was written earlier than the late '90s, and I've a feeling that GUS performed it at one of the Nationals Gala Concerts. If I remember correctly, the revised version was first performed in public by BAYV at the Brass on Sundays concert following the British Open.


    Having checked on 4brsrest, here is their summary at the time of the announcement as 2004 Area test:

    Last edited: Feb 20, 2007
  9. Griffin

    Griffin Active Member

    the last movement is awesome!
  10. bassmittens

    bassmittens Member

    Probably one of the hardest pieces i have played, but also one of the most enjoyable!!

    If you haven't heard it then have a listen.

    Rock hard........but a fantastic piece, and i'd love to have the chance to play it again.
  11. Leyfy

    Leyfy Active Member

    Probably one of the hardest pieces I've ever played too (up until that point certainly).... but not one of the most enjoyable!!!

    It was a case of 'spot the notes of the theme' near the end, as I recall!
  12. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    The theme appears in full in the flugel part, and that part alone IIRC. Not much fun trying to get that across the rest of the band when they're all tonking out fff quavers I can tell you - I nearly passed out at the areas! (flugel players are delicate flowers).

    Anyway its a fabulous piece, probably the favorite piece I've had to play of recent years (the RVW variations runs it close though). It has a bit of everything, and the slow movement is terrific.
  13. Veri

    Veri Member

    There's a good description, I think by Tovey, of the piece on the programme notes to the Black Dyke cd a Golden Year. I don't have the sleeve to hand, and I suppose it's probably a breach of copyright to retype it (says she, who is in the middle of writing an essay on copyright!), but it's worth reading
  14. pdj

    pdj Member

    It is a good piece to play and to listen. It was the piece we played at the 2004 Regionals which we won at our first attempt in the 1st Section:biggrin: . Good flug part too if i remember and the last section was a bit of a blow. Wouldnt mind playing it again.
  15. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    That would be another great piece from Maestro Tovey, "A Night to Sing" not "Coventry Variations".

    Is anyone aware of a recording of the new version of Coventry?
  16. Active Member

    It's here, John, on the Regionals 2004 CD.
  17. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    The 2004 Regionals CD, you can get it from any decent Brass Band CD supplier. IIRC the recording is by BAYV and its a pretty good recording too (unlike most "Regional" recordings).
  18. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that Carl (and you too Woodenflugel). My wife is either going to kill me or divorce me citing my CD addiction ;)
  19. Veri

    Veri Member

    D'oh yes. :oops: I got confused cos they're both about WW2!!
  20. John Brooks

    John Brooks Well-Known Member

    Well then, let's complete the confusion by adding Leslie Condon's "City of Three Spires" to the mix. Also written about Coventry in WWII. Quite different from "Coventry Variations" but, imho a good piece as well.

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