Brass Quintet No. 2 (1993)
Brass Quintet No. 2
My Brass Quintet No. 2 was written in November 1993, and comprises three movements. The first, a vigorous Allegro, opens with a series of powerful homophonic chords, which soon undergo more polyphonic and fragmented treatment, resulting in a demonstration of brass virtuosity which in its rhythmic complexity is considerably removed from the stereotypical technical displays found in so much twentieth-century chamber brass literature. In the calmer middle section the darker, warmer colors of the brass instruments are sought out. A return to the opening “theme” materials and a “sudden death” ending brings the movement to an abrupt close.
That the brass can “sing as lovely a tune” as any other instrument has been known to brass players for a long time, and yet the kind of cantilena we know from Beethoven or Schubert string quartets, for example, is rarely called for in modern-day brass quintets. In the second movement Arioso, I pay my respects to this singing eloquence of brass players.
The third movement, Scherzo-Finale, exploits a combination of irregular meters and variety of colors, the latter achieved largely through the use of the great array of mutes available to the modern brass player, most of these coming from the world of jazz. The rarest of these is the so-called megaphone mute, very popular with the dance bands (especially Paul Whiteman) of the late 20s and 30-s. A series of rather stern and stentorian unison passages signals the arrival of the real Finale, acting as a Coda and bringing the work to a brilliant powerful close.
The work was commissioned by the American Brass Quintet with funds from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust.