A Tale as Yet Untold

A Tale as Yet Untold was specially commissioned by the Cory Band for the European Brass Band Championships in Linz, Austria, 2010, and their winning performance gave them a hat-trick of victories at the competition.

The commission brought the composer full circle and completes and long relationship with this remarkable band from Wales, who commissioned one of the composer’s first major works for band, The Year of the Dragon, to celebrate their centenary in 1984.

The theme of the work, which is set in three movements, is one that recurs again and again throughout the music of Philip Sparke – specifically a series of works for concert band: the Trombone Concerto, Deserts, When the Spirit Soars and Spirit of the Sequoia – which take as their subject the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity and how the beauty of music can help in this respect.

The ‘tale’ of the title is an autobiographical one which the composer feels need not be divulged to explain the programme of the music, which deals with a much more general human condition. The first movement opens with a nervous repetitive figure in the cornets, under which an impassioned theme develops. This is cut short by a closely related faster section which comprises two alternating moods: an aggressive ‘toccata’ interspersed by a yearning 6/8 melody. The second movement is the heart of the work and symbolises the ability of the human soul to overcome the ‘Sturm und Drang’ of the first movement with an indomitable sense of optimism. The third movement tries to negate this feeling of peace but ends triumphantly in a salute to the power of the human spirit.