Eben, Berio, Robert Crawford, Xenakis, Martland

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Berio,Eben,Martland,Robert Crawford,Xenakis
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Hammered Brass
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Wallace Collection
Trevor Herbert in his accompanying CD notes remarks that the brass quintet is truly modern, without a linear development from early brass groupings, with their ecclesiastical or courtly associations. He should have added that the genesis of the brass quintet lies in orchestral players getting together in their spare time, and that their particular discipline has been the main influence on the music they commission. This recording is a perfect example. The rich history of brass instruments in a quasi-vocal role seems remote. Most of the music seems to be an extension of modern orchestral writing, the obvious influences being Bartók, Stravinsky, Walton and Hindemith. Textural virtuosity and extravagance of timbre are paramount. Differentiations of tone and articulation are highlighted and exploited to their limits, rhythmic figures are bounced between instruments and the quintet divided into smaller groups to provide intriguing new sonorities. Melodic fragments are terse, angular and secondary to the colouristic agenda. The honestly titled Hammered Brass does not promise a pastorale, and its Baltic Brass disc (Deux-Elles) shows that the Wallace Collection does have wider sympathies. The musicians play with quite astounding skill, but this orgy of orchestral contrivance needs such brilliant projection of sound that it could never properly be called chamber music. Christopher Mowat