Hepworth Band - Classic Brass Concert - Review

Discussion in 'The Auditorium - Concert Details' started by Roger Thorne, Jan 30, 2005.

  1. Roger Thorne

    Roger Thorne Active Member

    Wem, Shropshire UK
    The Hepworth (Persimmon Homes) Band


    An evening of popular classics.

    St Pauls Hall, Queensgate, Huddersfield. Saturday 29th January, 2005 at 7.30pm

    Concert Review by our roving reporter - tMP’s very own 2nd man down

    The band opened the concert with Copeland’s arrangement of Fanfare for the Common Man, which was an excellent choice as the huge fanfare of the cornets against the backdrop of the percussion and full sounding basses filled the hall superbly. This was a different opening to a concert by the Hepworth band as they normally begin the proceedings with their own signature tune Pratty Flowers.

    Mark Bentham, the band’s very likeable and charismatic Musical Director, Conductor and also compare for the night explained that the band had decided to try something different for this concert by providing a taste of popular classical music instead of the usual typical Brass Band repertoire, and as the evening progressed we weren’t to be disappointed with his choice of music.

    There were very few empty seats in the auditorium and the audience was then treated to music with a Scottish feel, McCunn’s Land of the Mountain Flood, crisply played and bringing a vision of purple heather and a majestic Scottish landscape to our ears.

    The first soloist of the night was Hepworth’s excellent Principal Cornet Robert Westacott, who not withstanding a bout of food poisoning from the previous few days, gave an absolutely flawless display of precise cornet mastery playing Sparke’s Cornet Concerto. The band has a lovely, rich, full sound which I think compliments his tone perfectly. Mark Bentham’s comment to me at the interval was as good as I could have put it, remarking of Roberts performance “Well, he looked a bit green but he nailed it didn’t he?”

    Mr. Westacott then left the stage (no doubt among other things to settle the stomach again) leaving the band to perform the penultimate piece of the first half without him. This piece, as Mark Bentham pointed out, showed that although the band has excellence in it’s soloists, it can also boast soloists throughout the rest of it’s ranks by playing Puccini’s Nessun Dorma, but with the melody of the piece being shared throughout all twenty eight members of the band, each taking his or her turn to stand and play their bit as the tune came to them. This was done with a beautiful fluidity, and the standing up and sitting down of the individuals didn’t detract from the tonal harmony of the music in the slightest. As the tune passed gracefully from one section to another, the excellent balance and intonation of the band was shown at it’s finest.

    Rob Westacott rejoined the ranks and the first half was brought to a close with Korsakov’s Capriccio Espangnol, again crisply performed and ending a thoroughly enjoyable first half.

    The second Half began with the bands performance of this year’s Area Championship Section test piece, Wagners’ Overture to the Opera Rienzi. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this is a most musical and ‘pleasing to listen to’ championship section test piece for many a year.

    Described by Mr. Bentham for the nights performance as a ‘working progress’ it none the less showed the high quality throughout the band and with over a month still remaining to polish up the ragged edges (I was hard pushed to find any but I’m sure Mr. Conductor found some), it feet it would be no more than they deserve to finish in the prizes come March 6th.

    We were then treated to our second soloist of the night, Brendan Wheeler opting to perform Gregsons’ Symphonic Rhapsody for Euphonium and Brass Band, and what a performance it was. Brendan seems to be able to perform the most difficult of pieces without appearing the least bit troubled, and his seemingly effortless glide through this piece was quite simply a joy to listen to. A beautiful and solid lilting tone, allied with his brilliant technical ability should stand him in good stead when he competes in the BBC Radio 2 soloist finals next month, I feel it will have to be an unbelievable performance to top him.

    It wouldn’t be a night of classical music without something from Britain’s own finest classical composer and Edward Elgars’ Wand of Youth Suite (a collection of tunes that Elgar had penned as an eleven year old boy and then in later life composed in to a complete suite) didn’t let us down. If the heavy going of the evening was taking any toll on the lips of the players it wasn’t showing.

    And finally the night was finished off to Stravinsky’s Finale from Firebird Suite, a fitting and rousing end to an evening of really enjoyable music.

    As an encore the band played the finale (the Can Can to the un-initiated) from the overture Orpheus in the Underworld, this too was played with great aplomb and startling clarity despite the heavy program and was appreciatively received.

    If I had any observation to make (or even dare I say criticism) it would be of the acoustics of the venue. The band coped well and, particularly in the second half, compensated expertly with the problems they had in projecting their sound, but with a high ceiling and sloping audience seating, every now and again the cornet detail and clarity was shrouded by the bass sound that filled the hall.

    As a player in a fourth section band, and admittedly probably blinkered by the fact that everyone on the stand plays far better than me, I can only give my wholly under-qualified opinion . . . and as a critic I’m useless because anyone that can play better than me impresses me . . . but having watched from a distance, and with great interest, the steady rise of Hepworth Persimmon Homes Band for some time now, it’s my bet that they’ll be widely considered among the top 10 bands in the world sooner rather than later.

    Crawford - 2nd Man Down.
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