John Foster Black Dyke Mills Band
David King conductor 
Equale Brass.


The wonderful Lyrita edition of Lloyd’s recorded works continues with this well filled disc of his music for brass.  It is not quite all as the Symphony No. 10 is for brass and appears in the second box set of the symphonies. Brass bands are tricky to write for.  In the wrong hands they can sound thick and stodgy, but when written with real understanding they can rival a symphony orchestra in expressive power. Lloyd heard many brass band concerts in his youth, and played cornet while a bandsman in the Royal Marines. All the works here are written with real understanding and love for this unique sound world. The composer celebrates the heritage with respect.

The disc opens with Lloyd’s first work for brass band, Royal Parks, written in 1984 for the European Brass Band Championships.  It is cast in a traditional fast-slow-fast form which depict aspects of Regent’s Park in London near where he lived.  Apparently, Royal Parks was not considered challenging enough for the players. 

In his next work for band, Diversions on a Bass Theme (1986), another competition test piece, he pulled all the stops out and wrote something much more technically demanding.  There are all manner of difficult trills and fast passage work.  All of this is no problem for the listener, and the work, which progresses organically, is full of memorable tunes. Lloyd had a love for the snare drum and, as in the Symphony No.5, the player gets some virtuoso passages in the opening movement. 

Commissioned by the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, English Heritage (1987) celebrates the pageantry, pomp and ceremony of England. It is not without humour however, and the finale is a mad-cap chase with many challenging flourishes.

Evening Song was arranged in 1991 from a carol Lloyd had written when he was ten years old.  It is set simply, its gentle lyricism working well on the band which sounds luminous. The HMS Trinidad March was also arranged in 1991 from a work written fifty years earlier.  It is everything we could want from a military march.

A Miniature Triptych was written in 1981 for Equale Brass who recorded it in 1984, but this is its first release. It has three movements Lost, Searching and Found, which the composer somewhat flippantly said related to the human condition. It is a perfect piece of writing for the ensemble with brilliant, idiomatic writing for all the instruments, and richly arranged chords.  There are a number of moments, particularly in Lost when there seems to be more than five instruments playing. 

The playing throughout is brilliant with all concerned sounding as though they are enjoying themselves thoroughly, and so they should!

Review by Paul RW Jackson