British Music for Concert Band
Gustav HOLST (1874-1934)
First Suite in E flat [10:02]
Second Suite in F for military band: [12:13]
Ralph Vaughan WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
English Folk Song Suite: (March: Seventeen Come Sunday [3:17]; Intermezzo: My Bonny Boy [4:18]; March: Folk Songs from Somerset [3:42])
Sea Songs (March) [3:41]
Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)
Lincolnshire Posy (Lisbon (Sailor's Song) [1:28]; Horkstow Grange [3:08]; Rufford Park Poachers (Poaching Song) [4:51]; The Brisk Young Sailor [1:40]; Lord Melbourne (War Song) [3:26]; The Lost Lady Found (Dance Song) [2:18])
Molly on the Shore [3:41]
Irish Tune from County Derry [4:06]
Children’ s March: Over the Hills and Far Away [6:47]
Country Gardens [2:00]
The Central Band of the Royal Air Force/Wing Commander Eric Banks
rec. no details given
REGIS RRC 1326 [71:30]

I was sadly disappointed by this disc of British music for concert band. Despite presenting a glorious programme of Holst, Vaughan Williams and Grainger, it offers performances which lack conviction. The half-hearted, rather anaemic and almost apologetic playing from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force results in a sound that is deficient not in volume but in energy. The incisiveness of the interpretation suffers, too, on account of the rather less-than-crisp ensemble – the opening of Molly on the Shore, for example, is, regrettably, messy. Unfortunately, suspect intonation also mars the overall impression, and split and overblown notes have somehow been allowed to slip through the net of the editing process. The poor sense of ensemble is particularly apparent in Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry and Country Gardens – although the latter does capture at least an air of high spirits.

There is an enjoyable swagger to the opening of the March of Holst’s First Suite – a shame, though, that this doesn’t really carry over to the first movement of the Second Suite. The second subject of this movement, when it recurs tutti, needs much more sense of grandiosity. The Fantasia on the ‘Dargason’ needs a greater sense of fun. I look for exuberance, energy or vitality in vain.

The percussion section’s lack of unity with the rest of the ensemble is often highlighted to a quite embarrassing extent: they play behind the beat far more often than should be acceptable. This may be as a result of playing, during the sessions, in a separate booth; but, if so, sufficient thought should have been given to this problem during rehearsals and adequate advice and practice given.

Sadly, this is a disc that does little credit either to the performers or to the music. This is an especially poignant matter for regret, given that in the booklet notes conductor Eric Banks recalls a inscription from Percy Grainger to the band, which mentions “their magnificent rendering of my music”.

Em Marshall

This disc does little credit to the performers or the music.