Modern Music for Brass
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL229     Release Date: 2010-07-01

Members of the Alumni of the National Orchestra Association; John Barnett, Conductor; Jascha Zayde, piano

Wallingford Riegger's Music For Brass Choir, Op. 45, which was written in 1949, was aptly named, for each section plays together as a unit most of the time, there being very few individual solo passages. The scoring is very full: four horns (though the composer indicated that all horn parts should be doubled throughout the work), ten trumpets, ten trombones, two tubas, kettledrums and cymbals. The music begins Andante and alternates several times between this rather broad tempo and a more animated, more rhythmic Più mosso. Ultimately, it settles on the faster tempo, at which point the principal theme is announced by the first trumpet. The pace slackens again for a new episode introduced by the tubas and taken up by the trumpets. With the return of the Più mosso comes more new material from the trumpets, and before long we are moving at double speed. Eventually, however, the first trumpet theme returns at its original tempo and, after a few further fluctuations, the work ends slowly and quietly.

Riegger composed Movement For Two Trumpets, Trombone And Piano, Op. 66, in 1960, the year before his death. It was commissioned by the Julliard School of Music, an appropriate gesture, since Riegger had been in the first graduating class of the institution's immediate ancestor, the Institute of Musical Art. The work is dedicated to William Schuman, who was President of Julliard at the time.

This basically tonal work is short and lively with a good deal of syncopation. The end sections are concerned mainly with a two-note motive and a running passage in triplets; The brief middle section introduces some new but related material that is treated contrapuntally. Throughout the composition, each participating instrument enjoys an independent career; which is to say that the piano never acts as an accompanist but always as an active competitor in setting forth the musical material.

The Nonet, OP. 49, dates from 1951. Though it is based on a tone row of G, A, G-flat, F, E- flat, E, B-flat, B, C, C-sharp, D, A flat, the work is not bound by serial procedures. It is however, dominated by a thematic fragment heard at the very opening. Its single movement begins with an introductory Lento, which leads to the main section, Allegro. Near the end, there is a recurrence of the Lento, but the music ends with a final statement, Allegro. The composition which is scored for two horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, is marked throughout by strong rhythmic impulses. Sometimes the music is contrapuntal, and sometimes there are large blocks of dissonant chords. For the most part, the instruments are treated in homogeneous groups, and there is an unusual amount of intricate solo work for the tuba.

Alvin Etler's Concerto for Brass Quintet, String Orchestra and Percussion was commissioned by the American Brass Quintet with a grant from the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, Inc., and was completed at Amherst, Massachusetts in March, 1967. The composer has supplied the following notes:

"The work seeks to exploit the Brass Quintet as a virtuoso instrument against a contrasting background. There is, however, a parallel aim in the form of a dialogue or contest between the quintet and all or part of the conflicting orchestral forces. There are times when the entire ensemble combines to form an integrated orchestral fabric, as well as other times when a single brass instrument, or pair of instruments, is singled out. No effort is made to display a compendium of all the devices of which the instruments are capable—only those which serve the communicable musical purposes embodied in the work.



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Various Artists

Modern Music for Brass

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Track Listing

Music for Brass Choir
Wallingford Riegger
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Movement for Two Trumpets, Trombone and Piano
Wallingford Riegger
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Nonet for Brass
Wallingford Riegger
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Concerto for Brass Quintet, Strings and Percussion: I. Moderato spinto
Alvin Etler
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Concerto for Brass Quintet, Strings and Percussion: II. Lento ma rilasciato
Alvin Etler
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Concerto for Brass Quintet, Strings and Percussion: III. Allegro con brio III. Allegro con brio
Alvin Etler
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Sonic Sequence for Brass Quintet
Alvin Etler
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