Friday Review: Arrangements Reviewed in The Horn Call

This week I didn’t write my own review, but will instead be sharing excerpts from a review of some brass trio arrangements I published through Cimarron Music Press. This very kind review by Jeffrey Snedeker appears in the February 2012 issue of The Horn Call (cover image at left), and looks at the following arrangements of works by Arcangelo Corelli and W.A. Mozart.



  • Trio Sonata Op. 2, No. 1
  • Trio Sonata Op. 3, No. 2


  • Divertimento I from Five Divertimenti for Three Bassett Horns, K. 439b
  • Divertimento III from Five Divertimenti for Three Bassett Horns, K.439b
  • Allegro from Divertimento for Violin, Viola and Cello, K. 563

Snedeker opens his review by summarizing the current state of affairs in brass trio music.

The repertoire for brass trio (usually trumpet, horn, and trombone) has a few good original works (Poulenc, Sanders, and Marek come to mind immediately), but this combination also has a growing collection of arrangements…James Boldin, horn teacher at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has found some nice works from the Baroque and Classical periods that, taken together, provide a balanced diet for both younger and more experienced players. (The Horn Call, Vol. XLII, No. 2, Feb. 2012, p. 80)

He goes on to offer a very historically informed review of the arrangements, and also makes an excellent suggestion for improving one of the pieces.

I did miss the original movement titles for the op. 2, which I think would give a little more insight into the desired styles, even with the metronome markings included; for example to know the latter two are a Corrente and a Gavotte is more helpful than two Allegros. Also, the Largo second movement is actually Allegro in the original-an easy fix by Cimarron in future printings. (Ibid., p. 80)

Snedeker is right on the money with his suggestion, and I don’t really know why the movement titles were left off in publication.  I must have missed it when I went over the proof, but I plan to pass this information along to Cimarron. The remainder of the review is in general very positive – for the full article you’ll have to pick up a copy of the most recent Horn Call. I know that Professor Snedeker must receive many more submissions than he could possibly review for each issue, and I appreciate his taking the time to consider my materials so thoroughly. Here are his closing thoughts on these arrangements.

In the end, all five pieces chosen for arrangement are excellent for different reasons, whether for technical demands or musical challenges, and are highly recommended for both school and professional brass chamber libraries. (Ibid., p. 80)

If you are a member of a small brass ensemble and are looking for some new  repertoire, I encourage you to check out these arrangements. I think they work quite well, and can provide some breadth and variety to your next performance. For a sample of one of these arrangements, here’s the closing section from the last movement of Mozart’s Divertimento I, K. 439b.  This recording actually predates the publication of these arrangements, and the performers are Marilynn Gibson, trumpet, James Boldin, horn, and Micah Everett, trombone.  The recording is from a live performance on February 4, 2010. This section is notable for the mid and low range workout for the horn player.

New Brass Trio Arrangements

If you currently play or have ever played in a brass trio, you know that the repertoire for the ensemble is pretty limited, especially when compared to the more popular brass quintet. There are a number of reasons for this shortage: 1) with only three predominantly monophonic voices, the number of possible harmonies and colors are limited, 2) the brass trio is not as prestigious a genre as the brass quintet, so well-known composers tend not to write for it, and 3) there simply aren’t that many brass trios out there, be it at the student, amateur, or professional level.

Yet, the number of ensembles seems to be modestly growing, and there are a few jewels in the repertoire (Poulenc’s Sonata, for one) which help give this medium some credibility.  As part of a faculty brass trio, one of my goals a few summers ago was to help create some more arrangements for our ensemble and for any other brass trios looking for some quality music to perform.   These arrangements have been published, and are now available through Cimarron Music Press.  You can view sample scores and a complete list of my brass trio arrangements by searching for “Boldin” under Composer/Arranger on Cimarron’s website.  Overall I’m very pleased with these publications – the engraving looks terrific, and they work quite well for the brass trio.  (Click here to view a sample page from one of the arrangements) One reason I think they work well is because they all were originally trios: either for three basset horns (Mozart), two violins and continuo (Corelli), or violin, viola and cello (Mozart).  Although transcribing large orchestral works for brass trio can certainly be done, many arrangements often end up sounding thin and watered down simply because of the limitations inherent in this type of ensemble.  The arrangements vary in difficulty from intermediate (Mozart, Divertimento I) to moderately advanced (Mozart, Divertimento III; Corello, Trio Sonatas) to advanced (Mozart, Divertimento for Violin, Viola and Cello).  Both Corelli trio sonatas work well as concert/recital openers, and  Mozart’s basset horn divertimentos are longer, more involved works.  Horn players be sure to check out the part in the final movement of  Divertimento I – it requires quite a bit of agile playing in the mid-low range!  If your trio is looking for a real challenge, try the Divertimento for Violin, Viola and Cello, K. 563.  I only transcribed one movement from this trio, as the later movements get a bit messy with double-stops and other techniques which don’t transfer so well to brass trio.  However, the first movement is a virtuosic showpiece for all three instruments, and would also make a great recital opener.

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