New Brass Trio CD

One long term project I’ve been involved with is a CD recording of brass trio music, featuring the Chamber Arts Brass, the resident faculty brass trio here at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.  The project actually began in the fall of 2008 with a written proposal for funding from the College of Arts and Sciences at ULM.  We were fortunate in that our proposal was funded, and we were able to proceed with recording the CD.  We recorded over four days in April of 2009, averaging about three hours per session.  After the recording sessions, we spent several hours editing and mastering with the recording engineer, and now have a nice final product to show for it.  It should be said up front that this recording is strictly for promotional/educational purposes, and is not for sale. However, if you are interested in hearing the entire CD I’ll include a link to the files at the end of this post.  As many of you probably know, producing a commercial CD is quite expensive, and unfortunately we were not able to afford the mechanical licensing costs for this particular project.  As such we cannot legally sell the recording for a profit, but I do believe that we are within the law by making these recordings available for free to prospective students and other interested parties for educational purposes.

The title of the CD is Metamorphosen, and includes a number of standard as well as newer compositions for brass trio.  One of the strengths of our proposal I believe was that many of these works had to my knowledge never been recorded, although some of them have become quite popular in the repertoire.  Check out the image below for a complete listing of the contents.  The personnel for this recording were as follows:

Marilynn Gibson, trumpet; James Boldin, horn; Micah Everett, trombone; Trenton Dick, recording engineer (recording/editing/mastering); Jason Rinehart, producer

Of the works we recorded, the Beethoven Trio, Op. 87 is definitely the most substantial.  It is one of the more frequently performed brass trio arrangements, but surprisingly I was unable to find very many recordings of it. Originally composed for two oboes and English horn, the Trio works quite well for the trumpet/horn/trombone combination.  Another particularly interesting work is Figaro Metamorphosen, by the Dutch composer Jan Koetsier. Koetsier has a number of very nice works for brass, and a handful of solo horn compositions.  His style is tonal and often lighthearted, but quite challenging at times.  His Figaro Metamorphosen is of course where we got the title for CD, and is an extended (9+ minutes) single movement composition based on themes from Mozart’s comic opera The Marriage of Figaro. To my knowledge this work has not been previously recorded, making ours the debut recording.  Here’s the link to the recording if you’d like to take a listen.

I will most likely post in the future about the recording process, but those who have done some recording know how grueling it can be.  Things must be in effect “perfect,” or as perfect as they can be on a given day under a particular set of conditions.  For this recording we decided to use our recital hall here at ULM as it would help cut down on some of the recording costs and also because the space is really quite good acoustically.  However, for a number of reasons we were unable to have the air handlers turned off in the hall so you can hear a low pitched hum on every track.  In addition, recording in a hall creates more variables acoustically, so at times it was difficult to splice the takes we wanted because of excess reverb from a previous section bleeding over into our splice.  In the controlled environment of a recording studio this would not have been an issue.  But, in general I am very pleased with the final product and I am excited about sharing it.

If you liked the sample included above you can listen to all of the tracks from the CD by visiting the following link.

Brass Quintet Excerpts, Part II

Continuing the post from Part I of this series, we should consider some of the other reasons why it is beneficial to study, or least be familiar with, brass quintet excerpts.  Quoting again from the Guide to the Brass Quintet:

Many of these works are performed frequently by student and professional brass quintets.  Being aware of the important horn solos and other prominent passages in these pieces will keep you from being caught off guard at your next reading session or rehearsal.

Because the brass quintet is the most popular medium for those instruments in chamber music, and because it has a tradition extending back to the 19th century (Ewald, etc.), there is now a more or less standard repertory, similar, though not as large, to what we find in symphonic music.  Even if you are not currently active in a brass quintet, it would still be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the major works and passages in the literature.  (Quoting myself again from the Guide to the Brass Quintet)

Although professional brass quintet auditions are not standardized in this country the way orchestral auditions are, players interested in pursuing a career in chamber music for brass should definitely know this repertoire.  Players auditioning for teaching positions at institutions  which have a faculty brass quintet would also need to be familiar with these works, since a reading session with the quintet would be very likely during the audition/interview process.  In addition, some full time and regional orchestras also have a woodwind or brass quintet made up of principal players – I know of at least one audition list that stated “Auditionee for Principal Horn may be asked to participate in a reading session with woodwind and/or brass quintet.” (Cedar Rapids, Principal/3rd horn, 1997)

If you’re looking for a place to start your study of brass quintet music, consult the list below.  These are all pieces – in no particular order – that I think most would agree are more or less standard in the literature, meaning they are performed and recorded quite often.  There are certainly others equal in popularity, but these are as good as any for a point of departure.  Clicking the links will take you to a specific movement from that work located in the Guide to the Brass Quintet website.  Return to the Excerpts homepage to see passages from additional movements.

Malcolm Arnold, Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 73

Victor Ewald, Brass Quintet No. 1, Op. 5

Andre Previn, Four Outings for Brass Quintet

Morley Calvert, Suite from the Monteregian Hills

Eugene Bozza, Sonatine

John Cheetham, A Brass Menagerie

John Cheetham, Scherzo

Ingolf Dahl, Music for Brass Instruments [Brass Sextet]

Anthony Plog, Four Sketches

Eric Ewazen, Colchester Fantasy

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