This DVD represents the fulfillment of a huge project involving the close co-operation of Philip Wilby, Guy Wilson of the Royal Armouries Museum and Nicholas Childs. It celebrates not only Black Dyke's 150th anniversary but also the concept of 'Britishness', of which Black Dyke Band is an integral part. Special music was written by Professor Wilby to add to existing extracts from the music of Elgar, Holst, and Walton and a script was devised by Prof. Wilby and Guy Wilson to lead the viewer through the annals of British history in an involving and entertaining manner.
Beginning with a splendid introductory fanfare by Philip Wilby, accompanying a tracking shot across Hadrian's Wall, the history of Britain is charted, some of it with humour reminiscent of 1066 and All That, particularly in the sequence relating to the various invasions and counter invasions our country suffered in the post-Roman period. The legacy of the Christian church is symbolised by the Nativity sequence from PhilipWilby's Dove Descending (with excellent solo contributions from Michelle Ibbotson and David Thornton). The Industrial Revolution is depicted by the City Scape movement of Wilby's Lowry Sketchbook, whilst the Battle of Agincourt is given the full cinematic treatment, complete with authentic weaponry and realistic acting, to the music from Walton's Henry V film score.
The narrative is of a 'non-linear' variety and tends to dodge about over the centuries, but never loses the viewer. The 1920s 'literati' are exemplified by the Popular Song from Walton's Facade, with Kate Vigurs delivering Edith Sitwell's delicious nonsense verse with crystal-clear diction, albeit in a rather 'deadpan' manner, and the English landscape is illustrated musically by Elgar's Chanson de Matin, with the Battle of Trafalgar illustrated by a lively rendition of Jupiter from Holst's Planets. A sword fight from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is performed to special music by Philip Wilby, whilst Elgar's Nimrod provides an appropriate commentary on a moving account from the trenches of World War I. Walton's Spitfire fugue forms the finale and is given a spirited performance in the best Black Dyke tradition.
The musical sequences are performed throughout with great gusto by the band and the accompanying visuals are highly imaginative, sometimes in split-screen format. The photography is by the ever-resourceful David Nicholson and his team, whose work has enlivened so many World of Brass DVD presentations over recent years. The music recording (by the Doyen team) is excellent, with engineer Richard Scott capturing the sound of Black Dyke with startling clarity. An extract from this presentation has already been broadcast on Yorkshire Television and some digital TV channels have also indicated an intention to screen it (we will bring readers details when we are able).
The whole of this release is hugely entertaining, with high production values and is very strongly recommended to all. It should very popular and deserves to be seen by the widest of audiences.
British Bandsman - Saturday 9th July 2005