The crack brass collective Meridian Arts Ensemble here delivers us
the fruits of a collaboration which has been on-going since multi award
winning composer Andrew Rindfleisch wrote In the Zone
for them in
2009. Horn player Daniel Grabois’s notes for the release describe and
express some of the positive vibes which come through so clearly in the
music and the performances, something which grabbed me from the start.
In the Zone
is direct descendent of the Renaissance
, here given contemporary if not avant-garde garb in a pair of
movements which are striking in their verve and energy. The trusted
techniques of polyphony are all put to good use here, but as with the best
of music from the Renaissance period everything is terrific fun as well as a
workout for your ear’s mind’s eye.
The Four Fanfares
for two trumpets are no less stimulating.
These take the duet ‘fanfare’ tradition but entirely avoid
stereotype, using the instruments in clever ways which remind me a little of
Britten’s Fanfare for St. Edmundsbury
, though in no way being
derivative of this fascinating little musical jigsaw puzzle which in any
case is for three trumpets. These are followed by another fascinating and
rather dramatic Fanfare
for the entire quintet, and A Little
Fanfare Music (by Lady MacBeth)
, for which the composer includes a
little programme note describing how Lady MacBeth’s imaginary (real)
deranged creation came to pass. With a feeling of unrelenting obsession and
unreality, bending notes and blurred tonality, this is an invention which
indeed demands picturesque narrative origins.
The remaining tracks are arrangements, showcasing the brass
ensemble’s remarkable expressive capabilities as well as
Rindfleisch’s facility in retaining the original character of the
songs while putting in some delicious personal touches. The final track,
Abide With Me
, has a special atmosphere, with some alternative
harmonisations and all of the instruments muted which to my mind gives the
piece a distinctly funereal feel.
The Meridian Arts Ensemble has appeared before on these pages in an
intriguing programme from Mark Appelbaum
. Despite the short playing time,
with superlative performances of some top class brass music this Andre
Rindfleisch album is another one not to be missed.