Your ideal compilation brass CD

Dave Payn

Active Member
I was about to say a 'hypothetical' situation, but technology allows these things now, but let's imagine you could choose, from all the brass recordings you own, individual tracks to mix and match and stick on a truly 'Best of Brass' compilation CD. What would you choose? Making it slightly easier, a double CD's worth. No more than 160 minutes (still, tricky, isn't it. What do you leave out?)

Brass band/ensemble only, I suggest. I'm sure we could pick another double CDs worth of solo items and the like!

Here, for what it's worth, is my 'list' (with no particular desire to put them in a specific order)

Les Soirees Musicales - Howard Snell Brass, from 'Premiere' (17 mins)

Utterly blew me away when I first heard this. I thought JSVB were excellent in the brass band ensemble field but the closing descending arpeggios in the first movement (amongst other things) absolutely took my breath away. Repeated listening detects a few 'flubs' but the overall picture over the four movements is that of a truly outstanding ensemble.

Festmusik der Stadt Wien - Royal Academy of Music Brass Soloists from 'A World Tour' (11 mins)

Eulogised elsewhere (mainly by me!) RAM students produce (to my ears) the definitive recorded version of the Richard Strauss Festmusik der Stadt Wien (amongst very good competition - Locke Brass, PJBE, London Brass Virtuosi) and Gunther Schuller's Symphony for Brass. Also try their hand (successfully) at the brass band repertoire. Difficult to believe they're students!

Cloudcatcher Fells - Black Dyke Mills from 'The Complete Champions' (18 mins)

A band at the very top of their form of the day. I really could have picked any one of the tracks from this recording, but as a piece of music, this is my favourite. Also eulogised elsewhere. One of the very best brass band recordings around.

Pictures at an Exhibition - Britannia BS -from 'Pictures at an Exhibition' (34 mins)

To my humble ears (!) the playing on this (albeit without some of the instruments of the brass ensemble version, like piccolo trumpet) just edges PJBE's marvellous recording. David King on sop is outstanding on this.

Prokofieff: Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet. English Brass Ensemble from 'Russian Brass' (30 mins)

A CD now sadly deleted. I was going to pick the Widor Symphony no. 5 from the same group's album 'Toccata' but I've listened that almost to the point of boredom! Not all the EBE's recordings for ASV were successful but this one definitely was, and in particular the excellently arranged and played Rome and Juliet selection. Superb ensemble, technique and colour all round.

Winter: from the Four Seasons. London Brass; from 'Christmas With London Brass' (9 mins)

Worth getting the CD for alone, lyrical in the slow movements and technically astonishing in the outer movements

Connotations: Black Dyke Mills from 'Champions of Brass' (12 mins)

A strange choice? Maybe, but though there may be better recordings from a technical standpoint. This recording from 1977 oozes musicianship from start to finish

Four Outings for Brass. PJBE from '20th Century Album' or 'Divertimento' (16 mins)

For me the pick of the famous PJBE quintet of Jones, Howarth, James, Iveson and Fletcher, with John Fletcher in particularly staggering form. Not everyone's cup of tea music wise perhaps but for me, the best example of a truly great brass quintet.

Brandenburg Concerto no. 3 PJBE from 'Music from the Courts of Europe' (9 mins)

Arguably the most successful brass transcription of a Bach work for brass, and the typical PJBE homogenity is on evidence in what was their last recording for Decca before Jones retired.

Well, that's my little lot. Just an opinion from my brass CD collection! Any other offers?


Active Member
First day back at work and already bored!!!!

My compilation:
-Contest Music Black Dyke-Complete Champions
-Partita Brittania - Festival of Brass 92
Epic playing and amazing stamina from Martin Winter on sop
-Ratcliff Highway YBS - Essay 1
Grown up hearing one or two half baked attempts at this piece, then I heard YBS and the piece blew me away
-My all is on the altar YBS - Essays 3
Simple tune, beautiful arrangement, dr king gives it all space to breathe...hmmm :D
-Irish Blessing Rothwell Temperance -Spitfire
Biased? Maybe, but the playing is really nice and is one of my favourite tracks on the disc
-Les Preludes My copy of YBS at the Open 01
The best performance live I have ever heard - not flawless but beautiful in every way
-Albion Another dodgy copy of Fodens at the Nationals 01 - They were my winners on the day, so dramatic and committed.
-The Holy War Essays 2 - YBS
Great music - as groundbreaking within the SA as anything in contesting.
-Song of Courage ISB 'Renaissance'
One of my all time favourite pieces, moves me every time I hear it. ISB do a very clean and diginified version of it here.
-Suite from West Side Story LSO Brass 'American Brass'
Maurice Murphy, Rod Franks, Ian Bousfield all in the same group...ding dong!
-Prelude, Fugue and Riffs LSO Brass 'American Brass'
As above, but add saxes, clarinets and a load of fantastic percussion
-Napoli Wynton Marsalis 'Carnival'
Not sure whether this is a good inclusion or not...everytime I hear it I get depressed and want to quit playing!!
-Shine as the Light YBS 'Vitae Lux'
Familiar piece but for me, the best version. Interestingly enough Dr Graham rates the ISB's recorded version as the best one on disc.
-Floral Dance Mega cheesy but fun banding at it's best!

Wow, that was long!!! Sorry if you got bored



Here's mine (in no particular order!)

-Glory! Glory! (Heaton) - Heaton Collection ISB
One of the best (and unique) marches ever written
-Paganini Variations (Wilby) - Wilby Grimethorpe
Brilliant test piece brilliantly played
-Resurgam (Ball) - Essays 3 YBS
Dr King gives it time and space, plus the band have an amazing sound on it!
-The Holy War (Steadman-Allen) - Essays 2 YBS
One of the best pieces of music ever written anywhere (just my opinion mind you!)
-Toccata - Oh, the Blessed Lord (Heaton) - Trumpet Call ISB
Best performance I've heard of this piece
-A Gaelic Blessing (Rutter) - Vitae Lux YBS
Best I've ever heard a band sound-wise
-Florentiner March (Fucik) - Classic Brass Grimethorpe
Peter Roberts playing the piccolo part with seemingly endless ease, if you have this recording you'll know what I mean!!
-Folk Dances (Shostakovich) - Something 2 Celebrate Staffordshire
Nice playing, but amazing lip trill on sop by Steve Bailey (about a minute in)
-Pictures at an Exhibition (Mussorgsky) - BBS
No need to comment on this!
-The Year of the Dragon (Sparke) - BBS
One of the first pieces I played with the county youth band I played for - scary on snare drum when you don't know where you are!
-Windows of the World (Graham) - Europeans 2000 YBS
No conductor and from memory? Can't miss this out!
-Praise (Heaton)
Finishing it off with some cheese, can't beat it!

Phew! Think that'd fill 2 CD's nicely! Just my thoughts though!

Edit: And I'll add Apocalypse from the Bourgeois in Brass CD by YBS to that list. Technically the hardest thing I've heard a band play ever (plus Peter Roberts pushes soprano playing even further (those top E's!!!))

Okiedokie of Oz

Active Member
I haven't heard enough recordings to make a fair judgement for this, but I do think London Trombone Sound's Layla needs to be included. It is an awesome opener!!


Staff member
So difficult to choose, and I've not made space for any brass ensemble pieces. If there had been, it would have been the Wallace Collection's "Night on Bare Mountain":

Bourgeois: Concerto Grosso, Eikanger, Europeans 2000
One of the most inspiring live performances I've ever experienced: 20.13
Heaton: Partita, Britannia Building Society, Festival of Brass 1992
Masterful writing and played superbly: 25.09
Howarth: In Memoriam R K, Britannia Building Society, from Pictures at an Exhibition
One of my favourite Howarth pieces, not played as much as it should be: 15.43
Ray Steadman Allen: Sinfonietta At the edge of time, ISB, cd of the same name
Had to put something on by RSA, and love the trombone writing (and playing): 15.56
Kenneth Downie: Dance Fever, YBS, from Vitae Lux
Some of the tightest horn playing I've ever heard and a clever arangement to boot: 3.31
Gregson: Of Men and Mountains, Brass Band Berner Oberland, from Mountain Song
Unnecessarily discarded due to its length, one of Gregson's best: 18.18
Eric Ball: Song of Courage, Chalk Farm Band, from the 1992 Congress
Really spine-tingling account, released on their cd Terra Beata: 10.00
Sparke: Hymn of the Highlands, from cd of the same name
Had to include one of the YBS showcases, and this has got everything, with Peter Roberts' soprano ever-present: 35.51
Hovland/Farr: Fanfare & Chorale, Krohnengen Brass Band
Originally written for wind band this works beautifully on brass, and encouraged me to buy the cd when I heard it playing when shopping at SP&S: 07.08
Mussorgsky/Littlemore: Coronation Scene from Boris Godunov, Leyland, from East Coast Pictures
Just caps the live version from the Europeans; impressive playing with very telling percussion throughout: 06.10
Edelman/Duncan: Reunion & Finale from Gettysburg, Sellers, from Celtic Connections
Maybe a little indulgent to include both this and the Boris, and pushes me just over the 160 minutes, but it produces some really inspired playing and is one of the best film music arrangements around:04.56


Hi everyone,

Its a tough choice what I could put on to 2 80-min CD's but this is what I've decided to put on for the time being!

These are in no particular order:

Les Preludes - YBS 2001 Open
A superb performance by a super band. Peter Roberts on Sop. is just awesome!

Le Roi d'Ys - Sunlife
Stunning playing by the Euphonium on the day, a Mr. Lyndon Baglin if I'm not mistaken.

The New Jerusalem - Grimethorpe 1992 Nationals
Under so much pressure with the closure of the pit, played a stormer, they must have done to get 99pts out of 100!

Castell Caerffili
A welsh march to start the whole thing off!

Hora Staccato - Fairey's
I have a recording of Fairey's playing and its just superb! So quick!

Sweet Shepherdess from Cross Patonce
A lovely second movement.

Fest Musik der Stadt Wien
Really good opener (when played well!)

The Planets Suite [Venus & Jupiter] - YBS Open 2003
Must have been a good performance!

Indian Summer (2nd movement)
Won the 4th section area (Welsh) playing this in Swansea (1999). A lovely slow movement. Never forget it!

Deep Inside The Sacred Temple - Child's Brothers

Prelude from Holberg Suite - YBS Euro's 2003
Nice piece of music played excellently.

Hope you agree!


John Brooks

Well-Known Member
I would intentionally leave off performances already committed to a similar compilation. My list favours some performances not already available:
The Holy War - ISB - Live 1965
Fantasia for Band and Piano -ISB - Live 1965
The historic, if not epic first performances of these two works deserve to be on CD.
Cornet Concerto (Tomlinson) - Maurice Murphy; Black Dyke - Live 1974
I was in the RAH that night; MM was nothing less than awesome
Finale - Symphony No.3(Organ)- Saint Saens - Black Dyke - Cathedral Brass
Some majestic sounds on this recording
March - Best Foot Forward- Black Dyke
This is a rarely heard march but it's a real corker
Flugel/Trumpet Solo - Blessed Assurance- Philip Smith - New York Staff Band (Principals)
For me this is still the definitive performance of this piece
Fodens conducted by Bramwell Tovey - two or three pieces
Where are those acclaimed performances and interpretations?
The Swan -Saint Saens - played by five trombones
I heard an old tape of the ISB in Canada from 1962; it was outstanding
In Perfect Peace - Massed Staff Bands - Toronto
I was in the Roy Thompson Hall and the atmosphere was electric
To conclude, Bill Gordon's arrangement of God Be With You Till We Meet Again (I'm having a senior's moment; can't recall the correct title) from the same Toronto concert; a perfect ending.

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