Thursday, March 23, 2017

Reflection on Tomasi and Arnolds

This reflection comes a little late but I want to reflect on Malcolm Arnold's Symphony for Brass and Henri Tomasi's Fanfares Liturgiques after hearing then from last Monday class. 

That was the first time I heard the Arnold's. It was such a great music to listen to. This piece, I thought, was well written brass ensemble and especially for Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (whether or not it was for or dedicated to them, I am not sure) or those of their calibre at the time. It did definitely push brass playing to the next level. I am sure there are many ensemble who can perform this today.

This recording by Philip Jones Brass Ensemble really exemplify British Brass playing tradition. Having spent two years in London, this style is unmistakably British. Flashy, bold, brave, taking risk, and more on the edge and playing beautifully at the same time. It is not a perfect recording but that does not really matter since it can be compensated by music that they made. I am also guessing that they did this recording in fewer takes than we might expect.

Arnold's Symphony for Brass by PJBE

My first experience with Tomasi's Fanfares Liturgiques was back in the summer of 2006 when I attended Canton International Summer Music Academy in China which ran for three years from 2005 - 2007. It was a great academy with a lot of world renowned musicians as well as great conductor such as Charles Dutoit or Stéphane Denève (I got to work with him few more times and he is a great conductor!) to name a few. 

In 2006, we did the Tomasi as part of Brass Ensemble concert at the camp. We got to play alongside our faculty members where Jorge van Rijen was on 1st trombone, Laurence Davies of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London was on 1st horn, and conducted by James Thompson. It was such a great experience. Sadly, I couldn't find the recording any where. After that experience, I totally forgot about this piece until my next encounter with this piece last year where Princess Galyani Vadhana Institute of Music Youth Orchestra performed this piece as part of their concert season. 

Again, I think this is a very well written for brass ensemble. I also like how Tomasi explore different timbres that gave this piece something more unique that perfectly match its story. 

Tomasi performed by members of Philadelphia, NY Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony, and National Symphony brass and percussion players.

Personally, I do enjoy being in a mixed ensemble (such as woodwind quintet, or mix ensemble with piano) rather than brass ensemble as the latter does not give variety of tone colors comparing to the former. However, listening to brass ensemble music in this class slowly change my mind. I do realize that I have limited knowledge of brass ensemble repertoire and I am glad to learn more throughout this semester.

Lastly, more information about these two pieces can be found at Prof. Manning's blog here.

Will be back with more horn ensemble related for the next one!

1 comment:

  1. This was my first experience with the Tomasi. It is an amazing work. Since there appear to be Christian elements within the work it has a little more meaning for me due to the religious symbolism. I would love to have a chance to play or conduct this work, sometime.