Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Weiner Philharmoiker Fanfare

In doing research for a paper, I came across this video taken from what appears the middle of the trombone section of the VPO brass. Of course the sound quality is lacking, but I think it's actually pretty cool to hear the ensemble from this perspective (lots of tuba!).

This piece was originally composed by Strauss for the first Vienna Philharmonic Ball, now an annual benefit event. You'll notice that the music is repeated many times as it's purpose is to accompany the procession of guests (dignitaries and otherwise important people).

As a testament to the skill of these players, after five minutes of very heavy playing, the horns belt out the final high B flats in the finale with apparent ease. If only we all had that kind of endurance.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Vienna Brass

Okay, so this isn't technically a brass ensemble, but I love this video simply for the first six notes of the piece. The completely unison Es are seemingly simple, but tuning and timing are so nakedly apparent in the best way. I particularly enjoy this video because you see Muti give the cue as though he understands so thoroughly that no matter what he does, a brass section of this caliber will be together. Heck, he could have given the cue with jazz hands, and I'm sure that the brass would have sounded just as good. This kind of uniformity and one-ness of sound is so mesmerizing when it is at such a high level.

The Symphonic Brass of London

This is a very cool compilation video of a dectet of players from London performing in a cathedral in Norway. The pieces are start with an arrangement of a piece by François Couperin, a French Baroque composer. This is quickly followed by Debussy's Girl With the Flaxen Hair. Next up, De Falla's Ritual Fire Dance, and Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso. Then perhaps some of the most famous opera excerpts from Bizet's Carmen. Then come some very fun and lively arrangements of works by Spanish composer Enrique Granados. La Boda de Luis Alonzo by Giménez is the last work.

The quality of the video is rather lacking, but the the level of playing is superb enough to compensate for that.

The website for the group.

Chicago Symphony Horns

I just stumbled across the coolest album that I can't seem to find anywhere besides youtube.
From what I can put together from the notes, this would have been recorded in the early 60's. Christopher Lauba is listed as a performer, and he was principal horn in between Farkas and Clevenger, so as well as I can make out, early 60's.

The piece in this "video" is Alexander Mitushin's Concertino for Four Horns. 

Enjoy the unified sound and some really fantastic low horn playing!

Recap of Listening Presentation

A week or so late, but here is a list of the tracks I played with some additional information. I've included spotify links

Take 9 Antiphonal Fanfare
-Kerry Turner, composer.
-The performers included the American Horn Quartet and the 5 horns of the New York Philharmonic from 2004

Sous Le ciel de Paris – Berlin Philharmonic Horn Quartet
-The horn of the Berlin Philharmonic-Stefan Dohr, Fergus McWilliam, Stefan de Leval Jezierski, and Sara Willis from their 2011 album.
-There are some funny little musical quotes all over this album. This particular track sneaks in a little bit of Eroica.

Sacrae symphoniae
-From the National Brass Ensemble's 2015 all-Gabrieli release with T. Higgins' arrangements.

Don't Go Breaking My Heart
-Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass from their 1966 album S.R.O.
-After looking into this, I learned that Alpert would often dub his own playing over his own playing for a fuller sound.

La virgen de la Macarena
-By Bernardino Bautista Monterde featuring the legendary Rolf Smedvig on trumpet.
-I particularly love this track because of how unapologetically crazy the trumpet sound is. And of course the ensemble is fantastic.

-From the CSO Brass and their 2011 LIVE album. Arrangement by Bruce Roberts.

Pines of the Appian Way
-Recorded in 2008 also LIVE with another all-star group, the Summit Brass.

Berceuse & Finale from the Firebird 
-Another LIVE recording of the Denver Brass from 2012, a group made up mostly of the brass faculty at the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver, my alma mater.

Wiener Philharmoniker Fanfare 
-One of my all-time favorite pieces to perform and listen to. This is yet another LIVE recording from 2015 with the brass of the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of Zubin Mehta.

Double Trio: II. Tempo rubato e andante
-An finally, the strangest of this list, a 1993 recording of a William Kraft piece done by the LA Horn Club with guests coincidentally under the direction of Mehta.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Chicago Symphony Brass Plays Ewald

Seeing as a week from today we'll be studying the landmark third brass quintet by Viktor Ewald, I thought a fantastic recording of his first would inform that class.

This is another favorite recording of mine. I would encourage you to listen to it somewhere other than the youtube link above as the quality is severely lacking.

Some background on the recording: This was done live in 1966 in Chicago with the brass quintet composed of members of the CSO. Trumpets, Adolph Herseth and Vincent Cichowicz, horn, Richard Oldberg, trombone, Frank Crisafulli, and the legendary player and pedagogue Arnold Jacobs on tuba.

Once again the sense of connection and intimacy is so present in this playing. These artists know the ins and outs of each others sounds and how to create a phenomenal ensemble playing rather that presenting 5 soloists. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Take 9-Music for Horns

In 2004, the American Horn Quartet collaborated with the horn section of the New York Philharmonic to make the album "Take 9."

Long time friend of the AHQ, composer Kerry Turner is featured on the CD and his style aligns in such a glorious way with sound of the two groups.

This album in particular highlights the qualities of an orchestral horn section in immediate juxtaposition with a non-symphonic group. The differences in timbre are somewhat noticeable upon close listening, but I would argue that this is a huge advantage for this group as the two ensembles are extremely complimentary in style. In Turner's Antiphonal Fanfare, the range in tone and timbre are so well balanced, one hears a brass ensemble across 4 octaves in the opening, followed by a homogenous horn ensemble directly after.

Here are some more FANTASTIC tracks from what has become one of my favorite albums:
Tuner-Ghosts of Dublin
Brahms (Arr. Robert Elkjer)-Hungarian Dance No. 5
Turner-Farewell To Red Castle
Ewazen-Grand Canyon Suite


Monday, February 1, 2016

New York Philharmonic Brass

The above is one of my favorite videos on the web and another outstanding demonstration of the ensemble quality of a symphony orchestra brass section.

Unfortunately, the description is rather lacking, but extrapolating from the personnel in the video, we can assume that this is late '80s early 90s New York Phil.

In no way do I seek to disparage or discredit the conductor, James Levine, but I will say that one gets the sense that a section of players this talented and familiar with one another could operate without his guidance. Of course this is the case with all of the top-tier orchestras, but in unity of expression and interpretation, this recording surpasses what a conductor is able to show. The players themselves were steering this ship.

I wanted to make specific mention of the low brass. The way in which you see them interact with one another is so subtle, yet so important. It is clear that these players know each other incredibly well and that their sounds, both in timbre and articulation, are so unified that it sounds like a single player with a phenomenally rich tone. This is particularly apparent in the way they breathe completely as one, leaving off the tone in such a way that it rings through the hall to cover the space in which they take the breath.

As a side note, a former teacher of mine, Warren Deck is the tubist in the section!