REVIEW BY PHILIP MORRIS
BRITISH BANDSMAN APRIL 2001:
What a refreshing change it is to hear a CD on which the featured band's dynamics don't blow your ear phones off! In this case the newly anointed North of England Champions, Fishburn, who open with the march, Arnhem, which they play with precision and zest.
The popular classic, Mozart's The Magic Flute, is featured next in which Fishburn demonstrate their versatility with musical capability with some fine cornet and soprano work, the bass section giving the depth needed for this type of music.
John Gill obviously has Georgia on his mind as he gives his interpretation of the Nat Gonella standard Georgia On My Mind, always a difficult piece for a brass band to get exactly right, style-wise. However, on this occasion the band and soloist were excellent, as they were on the Neil Hefti piece, Cute, which has been recorded by most of the 'named' big bands.
The track Rain On The Wind brings with it another change of style with which both band and conductor cope well, leading into the beautiful Lloyd Webber piece, Think Of Me and the March Fishburn. Then it is the turn of Malcolm Gill, the second of the three featured soloists with everybody's favourite trombone solo, Getting Sentimental Over You, played in the typically relaxed manner demanded by this solo.
Obviously for me, Myfanwy, played by Clive Parker on euphonium with Denzil Stephens arrangement of the Welsh Air, is a favourite of mine. This tune needs lots of compassion and feeling and the soloist has achieved it throughout.
Ending with Gresford, another deeply moving piece of music, this packed CD is certainly good listening and value for money.
* * * * * *
REVIEW BY VERNON BRIGGS
BRASS BAND WORLD FEBRUARY 2001:
"FISHBURN SHOWCASE TRADITIONAL VALUES"
This is a disc for believers in the best traditional values in brass band music-making: controlled vitality with sensitive expressiveness, fine rounded tone but nothing too robust for the various contexts, and finally a great sense of underlying pulse and rhythm (especially as demonstrated in the marches Arnhem by Kelly and The Wizard by George Allen).
Twelve of the tracks are familiar but in no way hackneyed (because of the fresh approach the band brings to them) and the soloists vindicate their less adventurous choices by their perceptive and committed approach to genuine communication with listeners. Thus in John Gill's excellently hang-loose cornet solo Georgia On My Mind, trombonist Malcolm Gill's Getting Sentimental Over You and Clive Parker's euphonium solo Myfanwy each and every player in their various ways gives great pleasure and satisfaction.
There's a classic start to the main part of the programme with an excellent account of Mozart's Magic Flute overture and the main package concludes with Eric Ball's Sinfonietta The Wayfarer, where the performance truly bears this composer's distinctive stamp - another demonstration that the brass band can have convincing validity as a musical medium which is rewarding in its own unique way.
Other particularly appealing tracks are Hefti's Cute, Herbie Martin's up-tempo Rain On The Wind and in contrast Allen's arrangement of the Negro spiritual When the Stars Begin to Fall. Then quite intriguing also is Ian Robinson's seven minute composition A Chance in Time, which is a competently sophisticated but slightly hybrid piece that incorporates a variety of modernish styles and musical devices to quite pleasant and occasionally dramatic effect.
If you love traditional style brass band music and arrangements played with skill and conviction this disc is for you. It is, moreover, a fine advertisement for the quality of the best banding in the North East of the UK, and if you've ever been to the annual Miners Rally in Durham Cathedral, here is a moving reminder of that atmospheric occasion in Fishburn's playing of its closely associated hymn tune Gresford, as an epilogue to this programme dedicated to the locality.