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European Brass Quintet
Samuel SCHEIDT (1587-1654) Battle Suite
J S BACH (1685-1750) arr H Herforth Wie will ich mich frauen (From Cantata 146)
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907) Suite
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984) Changing moods
Ian MacDONALD Sea sketches
Frigyes HIDAS (b 1928) Play
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908) Flight of the bumblebee
Jan Van LANDEGHEM (b 1954) Carpe Diem
European Brass Quintet
Recorded Lemmens Instituut, Leuven 1993
PAVANE ADW 7294 [52.43]


Experience Classicsonline

Pavane’s stunning booklet features three colour photographs from different angles of a work by Alexander Ketele. This gleaming tripartite sculpture resembles a burnished brass heart fractured obliquely by a vicious stump of girder. It’s lucky that it is so photogenic because there’s not a word about the music, the composers, the performances or anything very coherent about the performers – though there is a poem ("Arches and curves/Lie willing and ready..") in four languages vaguely correlating brass instruments and sex. Harry Mortimer would have been delighted.

Which leaves us with just our ears. This is a conspectus of originals and arrangements ranging from Scheidt to van Landeghem and MacDonald. Scheidt’s Battle Suite is a splendid evocation; authenticists will object to the relative opulence of the Quintet’s sonorities but others will thrill, as ever, to Scheidt’s drama and life force – not least in the excellent Canzon Bergamasque <sample 1>. The Grieg Suite is a pleasant diversion and receives a somewhat non-committal performance whilst Gordon Jacob’s Changing Moods belongs to his relatively fertile late period, from the last six years of his long life. His opening movement, Ceremonial, is baroque in spirit, and the Quintet employ some good control of dynamics. Nostalgic is the name Jacob gave to the second movement and it has the feel of a carol with pleasing ascending lines; in the fourth, final movement the near nonagenarian throws out brass layering, jazzy accelerandos, and his indelible joyful spirit <sample 2>. It sounds beautifully written for brass quintet. In Ian MacDonald’s Sea Sketches we can feel the salty brine – the first of this three movement suite is essentially nineteenth century in spirit which contrasts well with the succeeding devotional rapt concentration of the charmingly named Sunset shanty. Frigyes Hidas, Budapest born in 1928, contributes a rollickingly good little piece of no pretensions and we are spared some clarion blare in the Rimsky, nicely re-titled on the disc The flight of the tuba bee. It’s the least aggressive and accent-heavy flight you could wish for. Van Landeghem was born in Temse in 1954 and Carpe Diem is harmonically by far the most complex piece on the disc – indeed almost disconcertingly so. A multi-sectional barely six minute work it gains in momentum and complexity gathering itself for the final moments with acuity and sure musical intent <sample 3>. A thought-provoking finale to a recital of some incidental pleasures.

Jonathan Woolf


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