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Andrew RINDFLEISCH (b. 1963)
In the Zone (2009) for Brass Quintet [7:08]
Four Fanfares for Two Trumpets (2011) [5:16]
Fanfare (1988) for Brass Quintet [1:10]
A Little Fanfare Music (by Lady MacBeth) for Trumpet and Trombone [2:46]
Four Vintage Songs (Arranged by Andrew Rindfleisch) (2011) for Brass Quintet [15:08]
Abide With Me by Henry Monk (1861) arr. for Brass Quartet by Andrew Rindfleisch (2011) [5:24]
Meridian Arts Ensemble
rec. dates and location not given
INNOVA 850 [36:52]

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 Canzone, 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.
 
Dominy Clements