Midland Area Championships
Pentacle by Graham Cole


Midland area 2009_3
BRIAN BUCKLEY 1 Positive opening then the control wanders, and there was looseness of ensemble from 33. 54 showed a vast improvement through to close. 2 Secure soloist with well supported accompaniment. Euph plays with expression. Music is well shaped with dialogue of Trom and Flugel. 130 onwards, so much to commend and enjoy. 140 onwards, stylish ensemble and solo links. Slight hesitancy in Sop, why? Then superbly controlled! This music has character. 3 Rhythmic Timpanni! 186 well integrated through to 221 and to final bars. 4 Almost a controlled entry, balanced chords, Basses melody has warmth, so has the Flugel, well phrased. 258 onwards the melody is balanced. Trio and Quartet is always balanced and phrasing is well judged. Secure soloists to end. 5 Music has a purpose, this continues at 318. MD is certainly in charge of detail and style!! Rhythmic subtleties are well captured through to final bars. An enjoyable performance, so much to commend. Just a few uncertanties that did not really impact upon appreciating the musicallity. DEREK BROADBENT 1 Good detailed links in this opening. B I do hear the detail. Solo cornet – not so secure and lacking in good rhythm. D is bold and full of conviction. Close has good detail. 2 Horns open nicely. Sop has fine display – tastefully done to E. Euph plays with tenderness – well supported by solo cornet and accompaniment, - much enjoyed to F. Troms and Flugel work well together, - musically done indeed, - lovely ensemble sounds in approach to G. Much to commend in this section. H Stylish indeed, with goodmuted effects, all heard. J, Sop – fine indeed – first class. Euph plays with tenderness again. You make fine music in this section. 3 Good pace to open. I do hear all the ensuing detail to N. Good trom detail is heard – and the ensuing figures to good effect. P relaxed as it should be. Q Agitates. R is Con Fuoco!! 4 An untidy moment or two spoils the opening - but you soon settle – lovely sonerous Bass lines. S Cantabile yes. Flugel plays with good taste, and this is nicely shaped. T – U in good style. U, Bass line sings well, Horn not quite so secure. V Good Sop to close. Good build up to W, and a fine sound ensues, - close is nicely controlled. 5 Opens in style – Baritone, a shade hurried, but it is secure. AA Good pace. BB, Effective Basses and Troms to follow. CC, Has good style and conviction. Pleasing from DD – nothing overdone. FF Contrasts and builds, you make a fine close to a performance of much merit. Thank you very much indeed.
RETROSPECTIVE from FOUR BARS REST. Derek Broadbent and Brian Buckley both commented on Pentacle as a test of both physical and musical endurance, touching on the need for rhythmic accuracy in the opening bars and tight percussion along the way. But both were glowing in their praise of Phoenix West Midlands, making up for a rare disappointing showing in Harrogate last year to rise through the substantial field of sixteen bands to takevictory by a comfortable margin…it would have been interesting to see what the points difference would have been had they been awarded.
Inspiring David Maplestone’s inspiring and dynamic direction continues to be a potent factor in Phoenix’s success. But so does the unswerving commitment of the young players around the stands, as with Shirland in the Second Section, aided by a sprinkling of experienced old hands to create a winning balance. And winning is a subject on which Phoenix has a good deal of knowledge. As runner up on the band’s First Section debut last year, Phoenix immediately stamped its authority on the section and there was almost a sense of inevitability that they were going to pull something off again this year. As the band left the stage after its performance from the number fourteen draw though, that inevitability started to feel very much like certainty. Detail The detail in the opening bars will have caught the ears of the adjudicators immediately, whilst the playing throughout was never less than controlled and well paced. Most of all though the band created atmosphere and space, the former quality having been very notably absent from a good number of earlier performances or at best short lived in others. There were just the occasional moments of wobbly ensemble but the excitement in Fire and Quintessence was palpable. All in all it was one of those often elusive contest performances that convinced of its quality from the very start. How the band will cope with the challenges of Championship Section banding remains to be seen but at First Section level they are up there with the very best. In common with the other Regional First Sections so far this year, Pentacle was always going to separate the field out into just a few quality performances. The fact that it turned out to be something of a one horse race is to the immense credit of David Maplestone and the players of Phoenix West Midlands.
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