National Finals 2011 - test piece rumours

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Good knowledge.but can you name the 2nd section sparke piece ?

Only heard a rumour that it was a Sparke piece, but didnt know which one but now Portrait of a City has been mentioned maybe somebody knows something that the rest of us doesnt.

As for someone mentioning Ballet for Band, that would be a great shout. No doubt one or two will say its too easy though
 

andybass

Member
Only heard a rumour that it was a Sparke piece, but didnt know which one but now Portrait of a City has been mentioned maybe somebody knows something that the rest of us doesnt.

As for someone mentioning Ballet for Band, that would be a great shout. No doubt one or two will say its too easy though

Ballet would still sort bands out. Prob 1st section in it,s original form though?
 
Anyone know the history of 'Portrait of a City' ? Was it commissioned for anything? Phillip has the knack of writing music that is popular with players and audience alike.
 

Di

Active Member
Its been a good while since a perfectly good arrangement/comp was re-arranged for a major contest never to be played again in anger because the original arrangement/comp was granted old and yellow but importantly much better....... I would love to hear Ballet For Band at the area or at the Albert Hall.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the championship test piece at the Albert Hall in 1983? Not to be confused fourth section that year being Ballad for Band?

Now where is that test piece archive when you need it. :-?
 
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the championship test piece at the Albert Hall in 1983? Not to be confused fourth section that year being Ballad for Band?

Now where is that test piece archive when you need it. :-?

Its been top section area piece since then as well, 1989 or 1990 i think
 

Di

Active Member
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this the championship test piece at the Albert Hall in 1983? Not to be confused fourth section that year being Ballad for Band?

Now where is that test piece archive when you need it. :-?

Just checked the archive on 4br, and it was used at the Albert Hall in '83. ;)
 

cockaigne

Member
I think it's fair to say that [Ballet for Band] stretched the 1st section above and beyond?

In 1997, possibly - having tried it out on Forest of Dean, I'd say it's probably now within the reach of most 1st section bands, or (as in their case) a strong 2nd-section band.

It's a lovely piece of music - very characterful and entertaining, not merely a "test" piece.
 

Laserbeam bass

Active Member
In 1997, possibly - having tried it out on Forest of Dean, I'd say it's probably now within the reach of most 1st section bands, or (as in their case) a strong 2nd-section band.

It's a lovely piece of music - very characterful and entertaining, not merely a "test" piece.

No thanks :wink:
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
You're joking, Jack, I hope?

Standards haven't risen in the last 14 years - I don't understand why so many people think that they have. The myth of test piece inflation is a powerful one, peddled by various people on this site at various times - but as I see it, the years 1970-1990 saw a genuine increase in average technical standards and general musical awareness within the brass band world [driven by, to pick a few things, greater mass communication, larger bore instruments, and an influx of directing talent that was bent on rendering banding less insular], but have since been followed by a twenty year plateau, and maybe even some falling away - and, to be fair, a plateau is what one would expect to see in terms of usual behaviour in the long term.

BfB is a deceptive piece - not too hard to get through if your soloists are up to it, but very hard to pin down completely - all parts have important roles to play, and a lot of the writing is dangerously intimate for a brass band. A section of bands who all just about get through it does not do what is a lovely piece any justice at all.
 
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Thirteen Ball

Active Member
BfB is a deceptive piece - not too hard to get through if your soloists are up to it, but very hard to pin down completely - all parts have important roles to play, and a lot of the writing is dangerously intimate for a brass band. A section of bands who all just about get through it does not do what is a lovely piece any justice at all.

I can only really speak for the bass parts (having never properly laid eyes on a full score) but though there's nothing massively demanding in them technically or sound-wise, they're one of those things where a lot of subtlety and a lot of musicality is needed. And we do a lot more work in unison/octave with the euphonium and baritone than is usual - more like playing in the mode of a double-bass and cello team, rather than as one would tend to expect of brass band basses.

The other thing is that it's a rarety in which it's one of those few pieces I thought was unutterably tedious the first time I played it, (with a closed mind, I'll now freely admit) but has since completely won me over both as a player and a listener. Normally I'm pretty stubborn about these things and first impressions tend to grow stronger with time.... but I was completely wrong about BfB. :)
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
...I thought was unutterably tedious the first time I played it, (with a closed mind, I'll now freely admit) but has since completely won me over both as a player and a listener.

Horovitz himself said that he had a story in his mind as he wrote Ballet but chose not to tell us what it was. But it isn't difficult to identify some of the individuals or concepts depicted. The piece has an obvious love interest, a comic interlude, and best of all, a wonderful role for the tubas and solo euph as the villain of the piece, doing unspecified nefarious deeds. And after a frantic scramble towards the end, they all live happily ever after. Aaaahhh!

If you like Ballet and want to hear a work in a similar vein, try Buxton Orr's Narration (for wind band).
 
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