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Confronting Energy

Music played by the
Meridian Arts Ensemble -
reviewed by
MALCOLM TATTERSALL

'... the Kronos Quartet of brass ensembles?'

Meridian Arts Ensemble -- Brink - Channel Classics CCS SA 23206 - © 2006 Channel Classics Records bv

Meridian Arts Ensemble has been around for nearly twenty years and eight CDs but was new to me. On the basis of its discography it looks most likely to be compared to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (in its quintet line-up) and Empire Brass but are even more adventurous, and on the basis of this disc is every bit as accomplished. Is this the Kronos Quartet of brass ensembles?

The three works on Brink were all commissioned by the ensemble in search of concert-length items. All have a confronting energy that is either invigorating or abrasive, depending on the listener's mood: mostly up-tempo, strongly accented and replete with sudden shifts of metre, harmony or tessitura.

The most sustained of the three is Elliot Sharp's Beyond the Curve. It is nominally a single movement of nearly fourteen minutes, although it can be heard as a classical three movement structure, fast -- slow -- fast [listen to the transition from the first to the second -- track 7, 5:00-6:50]. It is a substantial work which rewards repeated listening and is the only piece here which invites comparison with the tradition of major works for (for example) string chamber groups.

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Copyright © 26 December 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller