Sunday, April 24, 2016

A Questionably Good Ending

Ending off this set of blog posts is another piece of homogenous brass music, this one composed for this particular set of instruments.  The Sonata for Four Horns by Paul Hindemith is one of the earliest compositions composed specifically for four horns and can be considered one of the first pieces to lead the way for the horn quartet to be a respected and established professional brass chamber ensemble.  

This recording comes from the horn players of the Summit Brass, all of which can be found in the links here.  It is a work in three movements, and is, in my opinion, one of Hindemith’s better sonatas that he composed, as it is the most musically interesting out of all the sonatas for horn and is one of my favorites to listen to.  The recording is quite good, and the professionals do a wonderful job of staying together, particularly in the very difficult third movement.  The recording was released in 1990.

Double he Instruments, Double the Fun

What could be better than a horn octet?  Nothing?  How about a double horn Octet??  Still not good enough?

Too bad, because that is what this is.  This is the Fanfare for Sixteen Horns by Bruce Broughton.  The piece is quite fun.  It is loud, big, and has a lot of good sound to it.  The performance comes from a premier performance that took place in 2015 at the Mid-South Horn Workshop.  The work features the combined octets from the University of Texas-Austin and Oklahoma State University.  The performance itself is really good and lot of fun to listen to, and would also be a lot of fun to perform.  It is a fairly long fanfare, going at ten to eleven minutes, but the piece works really well and would be a good work to perform for studio recital, assuming the studio has sixteen good horns to perform this work.

Never a Bell

We are sticking with the modern, rhythmically complex works here as well as some smaller brass chamber ensembles.  This time, this is the brass trio with trumpet, horn, and trombone and is the more common brass trio variety.  The work is a piece called Trio for Trumpet, Horn, and Trombone by Vaclav Nelhybel.  It is a work in three movements, all of which can be found here, here, and here, and it is quite an active and fun work to put together and perform, especially on a recital.

Nelhybel’s music is very rhythmically active and difficult in this regard, but his music is far more technical than musical.  It is fun to work on and put together, though maybe not the most musically satisfying trio one has performed in their lifetime.  The performance itself is very good as well as the recording quality.  The trio is the The University of Maryland Brass Trio and this recording was released in 2010.

Brass Quintet Minus One

While not as common as the brass quintet, the brass quartet has a few pieces of repertoire that works pretty well for the instrumentation.  It is essentially a brass quintet without the second trumpet.  

This piece is a work called Solarium and it is scored for brass quartet and piano.  It is an exciting piece of new music with the performance taking place at a collaborative piano recital at Arizona State University (ASU) in 2010.  There is a lot of emphasis on the piano in this piece, with the quartet acting as more of an accompaniment than a solo group.  The performance itself is quite good and the recording quality is not bad either.  It would definitely be a fun piece of music to add to a recital assuming you have the skilled performers necessary to pull this work off, as it seems quite challenging.

A Warm Sound for a Warm Day

It was a nice warm day today with some warm sounds coming from a low brass trio.  Brass trio’s are traditionally for the upper brass, but there are more and more trios for low brass being composed and arranged for as the instrumentation works just as well for this setup as a high brass trio.

This piece is called Prelude and Fugue on “Old Friends” and has a bit of inspiration from Simon and Garfunkel according to the composer.  It was performed by the International Low Brass Trio, uploaded in 2013, and is fairly solid performance by this group.  The sound quality is not great as it is a live recording and there could have been some post production to help raise the quality a bit.  The performance, though, is quite good and it is a good piece of music to learn and listen to (right here).

A Gift to Nerds Like Me

This next one is an arrangement of a few tunes from a video game that is a personal favorite of mine.  This is a medley of tunes from the video game series The Legend of Zelda, and was arranged and orchestrated by Aulis Poyhonen.  It was performed by the Brass Academy Group X at Kymi Brass 2013, a link of which can be found here.

The arrangement, as video game arrangements go, is quite good, and there are a lot of spots that work well, especially for an ensemble of brass and percussion.  The performance, is amateurish with a lot of little issues here and there that prevent the quality of the recording from reaching a level that would be good for a well known piece of video game music.

I Almost Forgot to Add a Title

The last piece featuring brass and organ might have had poor-ish quality sound in the recording, but this next piece is quite strong and good.  This is a full recording, taking just over an hour long, of several pieces arranged and composed for brass, percussion, and organ.  The performers include the Empire Brass along with organist Michael Murray and this album was released in 1989.  

The performance as well as the quality of the recording is quite phenomenal.  It has just the right volume and power that a collaboration of this kind should expect and the performance is really worth listening to.  This album is nice not just for the performance, but it also has a nice mix of different genres of music.  Most of it is older, Medieval or Baroque style tunes and arrangements for brass and organ, but their are some modern works in this album as well that are worth listening to.

All the works, as well as the names of each of the performers, can be found in the recording link.