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Brass in light-hearted mood



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Judging how my grandchildren may react to this diverse collection for brass quintet, recent experience suggests that they would wander away with barely a flicker of interest. Children's Circus. Music for Brass Quintet and Percussion. Copyright (c) 1999 Koch/SchwannThe record's title - Childrens' Circus - from the first track cannot be taken at face value. The majority of children, who are neither madly musical nor indifferent to lively tunes, mostly need a regular injection of action to hold interest.

This programme is good for adults to pick over for single movements. Apart from a transcription of Suppé's Overture Poet and Peasant  (excellent in both transcription and performance) and an uneventful suite from the Armenian Arutjunian transcribed for brass, the pieces are colourful and superbly played by this group.

The opening suite by Jan Koetsier, Childrens' Circus, is the spur for assembling this programme, but is not matched elsewhere in suitability. American William Schmidt's Latin Rhythms for tuba and percussion conjures a much livelier picture than the reality of the mostly quiet interweaving of instruments [click to listen]. How sad and lonely the tuba can sound when deprived of its brassy neighbours.

Sandor Balogh's unpretentious group of dance movements in modern style bows out the programme, with listeners responding to the beat however hard they may try to avoid it. One piece is based on Shenandoah (ignored in the liner notes) with a counter tune like a chorale prelude – even to a Bachian outline [click to listen].

A curious collection of pieces, but undoubtedly for brass fans who appreciate the potential of a quintet.

Copyright © Basil Ramsey, October 27th 1999 


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