Connaught Brass Ensemble
Colyer-Fergusson Hall, 20th November 2022, 3.00pm
Mogens Andresen: Prelude & Rheinlaender from Norwegian Dances
Born in 1945, Mogens Andresen’s compositions are played worldwide by a large number of ensembles. These include the Berlin Philharmonic and Concertgebouw’s brass ensembles, as well as Oslo Concert Brass, who commissioned this work with the support of the Nordic Music Committee. The three dances are built upon old Norwegian melodies, and they showcase the special tonal language attributed to Norwegian folk music. The Prelude is a celebratory affair, with a fanfare-motif opening and closing the movement.
Steven Verhelst: Suite from Pulcinella 2.0
The bass trombonist Steven Verhelst is renowned among the international brass community for his expert arrangements and compositions for solo, chamber and orchestral performers. This arrangement was inspired by original works by 18th century composers, Domenico Gallo, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer and Carlo Ignazio Monza, as well as the 19th Century composer Alessandro Parisotti. These were also the inspiration behind the 20th century composer Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella. Lively trio sonatas are interspersed with opera arias and dance-like ensemble concerti.
Gabriel Fauré arr. Ullrich: Pavane
When Fauré first wrote his Pavane in F-sharp Minor in 1887, it was a work for piano inspired by a traditional Spanish court dance. However, its popularity among audiences - and especially those with deeper pockets - ensured that the work was first adapted to include chorus, and then later on was adapted to a miniature yet fully-fledged orchestral work. In 2004, Marc Ullrich adapted this work so that it could be played in the brass quintet formation. As a newly formed group we were playing anything we could get our hands on, first outing this arrangement in France in 2018. We still play anything we can get our hands on, but Fauré’s Pavane continues to win the hearts of audience members in the 21st century.
Victor Ewald: Quintet No. 1
Victor Ewald is considered by many to be the founder of the modern brass quintet. Whilst proof exists that there are other composers who came first for this arrangement of instruments, Ewald’s four quintets are to brass players what Haydn’s sixty-eight string quartets are to string players. His first brass quintet was written in Leningrad in 1888, in the same year that Fauré’s Pavane was first performed in its orchestral state. However, it was deemed unplayable at the time and was reworked as a string quartet. His second brass quintet came out two years later and was the only one to be published in his lifetime.
Malcolm Arnold: Quintet No. 1
Sir Malcolm Henry Arnold began his musical career as a trumpet player, but by the age of 30 his attention was fully drawn to composition. His first brass quintet was completed in 1960, in the midst of a deeply unsettling period of his life. Although he was now a highly successful film composer, his personal life was in turmoil with depression and alcoholism. With the right treatment and care he was able to recover, complete his 9th symphony, and receive a standing ovation after his guitar concerto was performed at the Proms in 1991, aged 70. But this was all unknown to Arnold in 1960. The 2nd movement is the most emotionally exposed, whilst the 1st and 3rd dance and sparkle with a smile that could bite!
Florence Price arr. Blair: Adoration
Florence Beatrice Price (1887-1953) was composer, pianist, organist, and music teacher. In 2009 some of her compositions, originally thought to have been lost, were rediscovered in an abandoned house on the outskirts of Illinois. Her personal documents show clearly that she was aware of the power imbalance set up against her for her race and sex. Nevertheless, she persevered, notably becoming the first African American woman to be recognised as a symphonic composer, and the first to have a composition played by a major orchestra. In the past few decades, her music has been growing in popularity, with a growing number of recordings and performances being made of her major works. Adoration was originally an organ piece written in 1951 and is often arranged for different instrument combinations.
Traditional arr. Every - Folk Suite
Perhaps not known to many, this quintet is a Scottish and English sandwich with a slice of Welsh in the middle. We were inspired to pick some of our favourite folk songs in order to celebrate some of what makes Great Britain special, and we got a talented composer by the name of Sam Every to dish them up for us in his own unique style! There are four melodies, and we simply had to include an Irish melody too:
Dashing Away with the Smoothing Iron - English
Ae Fond Kiss - Scottish
Sosban Fach - Welsh
Londonderry Air – Irish