"Pastime with Good Company" by Henry VIII -- Best Brass Band arrangment?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by jobriant, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    I'm considering adding "Pastime with Good Company" to the Pacific Brass Band library. Google searches tell me that there are several arrangements of this, including (but possibly not limited to) the following. (Prices are in US dollars.)

    (1) arranged by Stephen Roberts, about $41.00
    (2) arranged by Philip Sparke, about $63.00
    (3) arranged by Mogens Andresen and Daniel Drage, $50.00
    (4) arranged by Valta, adapted by Mores $123.00

    Any recommendations as to which is the best? Any comments on why to consider -- or not consider -- one or another of these?

    Thanks in advance for your guidance!

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  2. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    Jim

    I've only ever played the Stephen Roberts one - its OK, quite exposed on the Trombones at the start, but a decent arrangement with most sections of the band involved.

    It might be worth trying to find recordings on YouTube or Soundcloud
     
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  3. davidsait

    davidsait Member

    I've played the Stephen Roberts and it's good. I'd always feel confident that anything composed or arranged by Philip Sparke is a good bet. I've not come across the others.
     
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  4. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I listened to a few recordings on YouTube too and I think that there might be a few additional arrangements to the ones mentioned by the OP. The Roberts arrangement sounded good to me too though at the beginning of the piece the Trombones are very exposed. Perhaps it’s possible for an Eb Bass and a couple of Baritones to be added, to double with the Bass and Tenor Trombones - they might even have the notes in small type on their parts already - but whether that would add to or detract from the performance I do not know.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  5. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Depends on the style of arrangement you're looking for...the Roberts is probably the one I come across most frequently...it turns into a 'rock' arrangement following the initial trio / quartet features...and it gets loud and lofty on the front row cornet parts so it's not for the fainthearted. Works well though if it fits your capabilities and remit ;)
     
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  6. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    Ditto above. The Roberts one seems to be popular in the UK.

    I used to like it, but my tastes have changed and it's now the type of music that I think epitomises the worst of brass band music. It's loud, brash and feels like it's brass banding trying (and failing) to be cool.

    I like the opening, but as soon as it develops into the rock / pop style I want to go and hide. Same applies to Farr's arrangement of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
    I'm sure the above says more about me than it does of the arrangement and arranger. It does seem to be a reliable crowd-pleaser.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2017
  7. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    I've found some recordings on YouTube, and some of them differ greatly from others. Several are identified as the Roberts arrangement, which I like -- except for the "rock" drum part that starts at about 1:30 of the piece. I think that a re-write of the drum part might be in order here, if we want to include it in more serious concerts. Given the abilities of our trombone section, the exposed trombone passages don't worry me. The second statement of the theme, with Flugel, Tenors, one Baritone & a Euphonium, might be more difficult to play in tune.

    I found several additional arrangements, other than the four I listed at the top of this thread, on YouTube, but most are for wind band or for "non brass band" brass ensembles.

    I expect we'll end up buying the Roberts arrangement. Thanks to all for your comments above.

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
  8. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I think that's an excellent idea. It appears that we may share similar dislikes in the arrangement. It will be interesting to know how a different (more authentic?) drum part works. The bars leading into the 'lifted' section seem to be written with a rock destination in mind...
     
  9. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    Yes, I think we agree on this. Without the "rock" beat behind it, the last 40% of the Roberts arrangement would, I believe, sound like a good, serious transcription/arrangement of renaissance music.

    From my side of the pond, I've observed that some Brass Band arrangers take a perfectly good piece and "over-arrange" it, when a good clean, straightforward transcription might be better received. A couple of years ago I pulled out the Gordon Langford arrangement of "Entry of the Gladiators" for the Pacific Brass Band to play at a performance that involved a lot of music traditionally played by American circus bands. The melodies had been tinkered with, the harmonies were grotesque, and some of the counter-melodies were VERY different from what Julius Fucik originally wrote. To my mind, while the changes did demonstrate Langford's skill and facility as an arranger, they were anything but an improvement upon the original. (The standard American wind band arrangement of this piece written in 1901 by L. P. Laurendreau and published under the title "Thunder and Blazes," also makes changes detrimental to the original work, including transposing the entire march up a fourth.) We quickly returned the Langford arrangement to its file envelope. I found the 1906 Hawkes & Son parts on online -- in the correct key an with the interlude in the TRIO unchanged from the original -- and used those to quickly prepare a straightforward version for Brass Band, much more faithful to the original. But I digress.

    I think we'll end up with the Roberts arrangement of "Pastimes" and I think I'll be doing some reasearch into 16th Century percussion.

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
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  10. Euphonium Lite

    Euphonium Lite Active Member

    I'll show myself up to be a complete peasant here and admit to quite liking the "Rock" section of the Roberts arrangement.....

    I do agree with the sentiment that things can be over-arranged for the sheer hell of it however. We did an arrangement by William Himes (decent arrangements as a rule) of White Christmas last night - originally written for Octet its done as a "swing" arrangement and I must admit I wasn't keen. I like White Christmas to be the same "smooth" version you get on old vinyl records. But each to their own and if we all liked the same stuff, life would get rather boring.....
     
  11. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    Or, as Mark Twain wrote, "It's a difference of opinion that makes a horse race interesting."

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
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  12. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I hope I didn't sound as though suggesting superiority by not liking it. It's probably just that I'm not cool enough :)
     
  13. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I guess there's possibly an element of context which is lost when we come across an arrangement years after it was written.
    Many of these pieces will have been written for a particular purpose where the harmonies or style were deliberate. Listened to in the intended context we may enjoy these pieces more than as isolated concert items.

    (Or maybe they're just not to our taste, period.) :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2017
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  14. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Personal opinion...I think the way the second half is scored...having got one in front of me...is part of the 'rock' feel...I don't think rewriting the perx part will work....probably a different arrangement is required.
     
  15. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I wonder the same.

    Hearing it with no percussion is probably a good place to start...
     
  16. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    Have done plenty of times in rehearsals ;)
     
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  17. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    There's a YouTube recording of the Roberts arrangement by "British Brass DOLCE" (a brass band from Japan) in which the "rock" feel is more understated.



    If, from about 1:40 of this recording onward, we ignore the tambourine and ride cymbal, it sounds pretty straightforward. I think a percussion re-write of the last minute of the piece will keep the renaissance "feel" that I'm looking for. Looking at the score might change my mind, but I don't have a copy available without buying one....

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
  18. KMJ Recordings

    KMJ Recordings Supporting Member

    It's more the avoidance of the top C fortissimo split fest that's not especially in keeping for me....
     
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  19. jobriant

    jobriant Member

    Can't agree or disagree without seeing the score. But range is generally not an issue with our Solo Cornets. Two of them have performed the Vivaldi Concerto in C for Two Trumpets with a local orchestra. Most players do it on a pair of Piccolo Trumpets in C; they used regular Trumpets in C.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "split fest," but I gather it wasn't a compliment... :)

    Jim O'Briant
    Music Director / Staff Arranger
    The Pacific Brass Band, Salinas, California, USA
    www.PacificBrassBand.org
     
  20. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    That was one of my first thoughts too - often the way with that particular arrangement though, it's tough to pull off convincingly and without flagging by the end (I've seen more than one first section band struggle with it).
     

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