What do you think of the area pieces?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by stevetrom, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    We had our first look at Comedy on friday, I really hope it grows on me because my first impression is that it seems to be a bit of a non-event. The music does'nt seem to go anywhere or have very much variety, am i missing something or am i in for a very frustrating few weeks?
  2. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    I think you're missing something :-?
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    What am i missing then?

    I have listened to the recording and I just don't see(ok hear) what the music is about, no great momenst, no big solos, 1 change of tempo, no key changes, only minor changes of style.

    Where are the 'good bits' in this piece?

    Can anyone who is playing it at the Areas honestly say they love the piece?
  4. Borfeo

    Borfeo Member

    The thing that made me laugh at band last night is that everytime the Trombones play we pretty much obliterate all the nice writing around it. Was suprised that there were so many ff parts in the troms, although I do realise that it's a very subtle bit of writing and that come the contest we will more than likely be as quiet as doormice! Think it might be a grower, but my first impression is......naff! Thank god I have Tam O'Shanter to keep me occupied, enjoying conducting that piece!
  5. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    I suppose when it comes to opinions, there is no 'right' or 'wrong whether you like a piece or not. One thing I will say is that the work was written the best part of 80 years ago (am I right?) so best to assume you are not going to have Wilby epic or Spheres-style work.

    I think Comedy is a fantastic piece - full of great lines and elegance. It took me a few listens to begin to appreciate what it was all about. I then played it and discovered so much more than I first thought, then I conducted it on an assessment with Elgar Howarth watching (my knees were knocking as Grimethorpe had recorded it only few weeks earlier!) and found even more in it to admire. Take a look at the score and see how everything knits together - takes on a whole new light when you see the bigger picture.

    As for the top section work - I like 'Rienzi' to listen to and think it's terrific music. Not 100% convinced it's a suitable test for all our top bands but sure it will be a very popular choice for the listener.
  6. AndyCat

    AndyCat Active Member

    Having recorded it a couple of times, and played it at Festival of Brass twice (both times with Howard Snell but 12 years apart!) I count it as in my top 5 favourite pieces. Maybe it's because I've never played the trom parts? Although as a Bull Trom player as well they sound great to play (with a balanced and "fat sounding" section).

    The bass parts (especially BBb) are some of the most testing and interesting ones written IMHO, perhaps not "fingers" wise, but stylistically, delicately and soundwise, with some awkward syncopations thrown in!. The trombone parts are, too, from my recollections of the performances I've been involved with.

    I'm doing the Area with a first section band this year as well, and I suppose if I was judging the piece on their attempts so far perhaps I would have a different opinion! I do hope it grows on you though, as I (and many others) think it's a classic.

    Everyone is different though, and one mans meat etc etc.........

    I certainly think it's going to be a great test though!
  7. Boneman

    Boneman Member

    I'm with stevetrom on this one.

    The piece depicts London - and I think it does - it is like a bus trip looking around at everything without actually stopping to investigate anything interesting!
  8. Lauradoll

    Lauradoll Active Member

    Think you're missing something, it's a great piece.
    What are you actually looking for though?
  9. iancwilx

    iancwilx Well-Known Member

    I agree, "Comedy" is a Classic.
    It us full of subtle nuances, and contains some beautiful chord work and musical sounds.
    I agree that the difficulties of "Comedy" are not perhaps apparent on first playing, but, as you say, look at the "Big Picture" on the score.
    It is like a jigsaw where every component must fit perfectly and smoothly with the adjacent connecting pieces.
    I'll admit that it may have limited appeal to younger banders who have cut their teeth on more modern writing, but it is a Classic, and it isn't easy to put together convincingly.
    I think it will present a fair test for the 1st Section.
  10. WhatSharp?

    WhatSharp? Active Member

    You could be doing Variations!, don't get me wrong I think it's a fantastic piece but as a second section test piece it's a very stiff test (hope the adjudicators are feeling a little lenient on the day!), having heard Comedy (and spoken to people who've played both) I know which one I'd rather be doing in March.
  11. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

  12. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

  13. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    ok which one ?
  14. bennem

    bennem Member

    As with all comments on test pieces someone will come up with examples that decimate my opinion but I'm going to make my point nonetheless.

    This is an older piece and is testing the fundamentals of making music which lots of brass test pieces can tend to miss. More modern test pieces love the odd key, strange key changes, blistering (demi)semi-quavers for the solo cornets and unusual timings 9/8 etc. But the older pieces tend to focus on the basics of brass playing where we all end up going wrong. Intonation, balance, phrasing, rhythmn, tuning, dynamics.....

    Comedy isn't particularly technically demanding in terms of playing but it does demand good fundamental brass playing which cannot be hidden behind rapid valve waggling
  15. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    So what do instrument you play (hopefully cornet or trombone cos thats what we need) and do fancy playing Comedy at the Area ?

    I noticed your from Bicester (not many tmp members in the area) so thought i would ask :)
  16. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    As a member of a band down in the depths I'd like to say that Divertimento is a great piece! The bass trom part is quality (even though I don't get to play it).
  17. bennem

    bennem Member

    To Stevetrom

    I'm playing rep cornet for Stonesfield and am playing comedy at the areas.
  18. peatair

    peatair Member

    Variations for Brass Band by Vaughan-Williams is certainly a very stiff test for 2nd Section bands. In my view, it is rather "old-fashioned" and not as good as "Kaleidoscope." As you might expect from a composer like RVW, it contains some good music and this needs to be brought out. The role of the MD is therefore going to be vital. Need to watch the tempi - the various recordings do not seem to me to be particularly accurate in this respect.
  19. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I got to sight read through "Divertimentos" a few month back, abd from what I remember (although my memory might be flawed)...I like it overall especially the march movement.

    Don't know much about Tam O'Shanter.

    Vaugh WIlliams is one of the best brass band pieces ever written in my opinion (may be a bit to hard for second section)

    Don't know Comedy.

    Going into Rienzi I enjoyed listening to it , but thought it was too easy to really separate the top bands from the bottom bands. Having played through it couple of times now, I realise that it is difficult in the sense of stamina, sound and balance. I am not convinced that whoever plays it best is necessarily the best band as I don't think it proportionately tests the qualities of good bands. I, wholeheartedly, expect to see some major upsets at some of the areas.
  20. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    So is it a good choice for an Area ?

    If the test piece does not test the bands accross the range of technical, ensenble, etc qualities and we get some strange results is this what we want at the Areas? Especially if your band suffers from an upset and gets relegated by it!

    I think much the same can be said of Comedy, it may be a good piece of music but does it challenge the band in a variety of ways?

    IMHO the Area pieces should be a real test, both musically and technically, for the section and from the sound of it maybe these 2 pieces dont.

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