Czech Republic – 2nd July 2011 – Flash Barandov

Perfect summer weather conditions were in place for the return of Flash Barandov, their debut display in Montreal being in 2005. At that debut display, they used a manual firing system and it was noted at the time that synchronization left something to be desired. This team, the display was fired using a Galaxis digital system.

Using largely classical music, the display also was unusual in that pretty much each piece of music was complete. The sound editing was a little bit simplistic, though, as a period of digital silence was interspersed between the musical tracks, most of which contained a bit of hiss. This absolute silence in between was somewhat distracting, at least, to my ears.

The quality of the products used was very high with vibrant colours in the one shot star-mine comets (almost certainly Ricardo Caballer) and beautiful studatas and mosaic shells from Vaccalluzzo. However, the pieces used during Rhapsody in Blue were enigmatic, to say the least, with a very pale blue being used. I kept thinking that shells or mines of brilliant blue would appear, but they never did. Maybe it was an artistic pun – Rhapsody in Not Blue.

The firing style used can be described as classic, with candles/one shots below and complementary shells above. The firing angles used were also quite conservative, save for some parts where low-angled “accelerating comet” candles were fired. The design was somewhat simplistic, but was very clean.

I was surprised that there were really no special effects used. Some of the music would have been enhanced and, given Flash Barandov’s special effects division, this quite surprised me. Also surprising was the total lack of use of the lake with no nautical effects whatsoever. For a debutante, this could be understandable, but not for a returning competitor. There were a few shell-based special effects with Relampagos from Grupo Luso being used to great effect to accent the use of castanets in the music.

As much as the quality of the material used was high, it was also rather repetitive with flights of horse-tails being used in several different places, as well as go-getters and other effects. I realize it is difficult to fill 30 minutes without some repetition, but the display would have been more enjoyable had there been rather less.

The finale was surprising in that it wasn’t really a finale. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy is a very powerful piece and just when it was starting to reach a crescendo and to enter a recapitulation, the display ended, as indicated by the lights on the Ferris wheel being illuminated. This surprised many.

All in all, it was an enjoyable display, despite my criticisms above and the audience were not disappointed (save for the brevity of the finale). This type of clean, classic display would have done well around ten years ago, but I feel was rather too conservative for this year’s competition.

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