“Parabel” – Original Works for Brass Quintet – CHEETHAM: A Brass Menagerie; BOZZA: Sonatine; BERNSTEIN: Dance Suite; PERSICHETTI: Parable II; LUTOSLAWSKI: Mini Overture; PREVIN: Four Outings for Brass; TURNER: Ricochet – Brass Quintet of Munich – Audite Multichannel SACD 92.525, 77:17 *****:
This is definitely not the sort of brass program you would hear from The Canadian Brass. But neither does that mean it is too academic, atonal, fiendishly difficult to appreciate. The notes credit trumpeter Maurice André with prompting musical arrangers to transcribe more music for brass players to expand a meager repertory. But the idea of this disc is to show that everything played by increasingly popular brass quintets doesn’t have to transcriptions of music originally written for other musicians. All of the original works on this program were created especially for brass quintet.
From the initial track one is sure to be impressed by the clarity and wonderful ambiance of Audite’s surround mix, and at the same time by the superb technical facility of all the quintet’s members. You definitely won’t miss Alexander von Puttkamer on tuba, especially if you have your subwoofer gain turned up a bit too high! I had to reduce mine, actually. John Cheetham is from New Mexico and has contributed much to the brass repertory. His five short movements show spectacular brass techniques and mix different sound and rhythms. Eugéne Bozza is a French composer who has written in all common forms but is especially good at chamber works for various small ensembles. He has a rather operatic style but I love his innate sense of humor, which will be especially noticed toward the end of the last movement of his Sonatine – which pokes fun at Wagner’s Ring. Leonard Bernstein’s Dance Suite was the last work he had written before his death in 1990. Each very short movement – some under one minute – is dedicated to one of his friends such as Agnes deMille, Jerome Robbins and “Misha” Barishnikov. Andre Previn’s brass quintet piece is, on the other hand, one of the first of the efforts at composition for the conductor/arranger/jazz pianist. It has some mischievous dissonances but is essentially a light and rhythmically active showoff piece for the quintet.
– John Sunier