Vaughan Williams on Brass / Knight, Porthouse, Brabbins, Tredegar Town Band

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A MusicWeb International Recording of the Month for July 2022!

In 2022 we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vaughan Williams, and there is no better way to do so than with this album of brass band music, released on 5 August. Vaughan Williams wrote three pieces for brass band - Henry the Fifth Overture, Prelude on Three Welsh Hymns and Variations for Brass Band, the latter commissioned for the National Brass Band Championships in 1957. Another major work - the Tuba Concerto - originally for Tuba and Orchestra, has been arranged for brass band. This album brings together these works with many new arrangements of some popular pieces by Paul Hindmarsh (who curated and produced the album) and Phillip Littlemore. The award-winning Tredegar Town Band is conducted by Martyn Brabbins and Ian Porthouse. The recording was made in Brangwyn Hall, Swansea and engineered by Steve Portnoi. The origins of Tredegar Town Band date back to 1849, and the band was formally constituted in 1876. Over the last 40 years they have become one of the world’s elite brass band performers, claiming the British Open title in 2010 and again in 2013. In 2022 they came 4th at the European Championships in Birmingham.


Vaughan Williams actually only wrote three original works for brass band; the aforementioned Overture to Henry V – which remained in manuscript and unperformed until the late 1970’s – the Prelude on Three Welsh Hymn Tunes and the Variations for Brass Band. Those three works constitute around twenty seven minutes of this very generous 79:30 disc. But do not assume the remaining fifty minutes of music is neither idiomatic or of genuine worth.

All the performances on this disc are authoritative and warmly idiomatic. The Albion engineering and production is at their usual high level as is the presentation of the disc with twenty pages of booklet notes (in English only) packed with fascinating and insightful detail. Of the ten works presented on this disc, six are the first recordings of new arrangements or editions of the particular score. Simply put, for any collector wishing to have a collection of the composer’s music for band this disc is both unique and invaluable.

Where alternatives exist, the performances here are the equal of any but it is the collective value of this disc that makes it an important addition to the Vaughan Williams discography. If one disc from this 150th anniversary is going to make it into my “recordings of the year” I suspect it might well be this.

--MusicWeb International (Nick Barnard)

Product Description:

  • Release Date: August 05, 2022

  • Catalog Number: ALBCD052

  • UPC: 5060158190522

  • Label: Albion

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams

  • Conductor: Martyn Brabbins, Ian Porthouse

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Tredegar Town Band

  • Performer: Ross Knight