“Perspectives”: American Brass Quintet – Music by PATTERSON, GREENBURG, CURRIER AND EWAZEN – Summit 692, 51:00  (12/13/17) ***1/2:

Contemporary brass music from the premier brass ensemble:

The American Brass Quintet is one of the finest group of brass players in the world. In 2013 the quintet received Chamber Music America’s highest honor, the Richard J. Bogomolny National Service Award for significant and lasting contributions to the field. Committed to the development of brass chamber music through education and outreach, the American Brass Quintet has served as Ensemble-in-Residence at The Juilliard School since 1987 and the Aspen Music Festival since 1970.

On their latest CD from Summit Records, The ABQ offers a collection of works by American contemporary composers, commissioned by the Quintet for this recording.

The disc begins with Shine by Robert Patterson. The four-movement work is an exploration of four different metals. It’s an interesting and varied piece, featuring a movement representing brass bells, quicksilver, gold and blue steel.

The disc then moves on to the Quintet for Brass by Jay Greenburg, and then Cadence, Fugue, Fade by Sebastian Currier. Both works are highly listenable, and as a former brass player myself, I marvel at the skill of the ABQ in playing these pieces.

Finally we have Canticum Honoris Amicorum by Eric Ewazen. Ewazen is a terrific composer, who seems to grow with increasing prominence over the years. It’s nice to hear something new from Ewazen. The ABQ previously appeared performing Ewazen’s Shadowcatcher. 

The CD is well-recorded, with a nice soundstage highlighting the positions of the instruments. It’s not a demonstration quality disc, but it has a good dynamic range and a sense of space in the hall. My only complaint about this release is the complete dearth of liner notes exploring the composers and their compositions. There really isn’t a better source for contemporary classical brass music than the ABQ. This album is worthy of your exploration.

—Mel Martin