S022591 Reviews

S022591 Hearing the Call

FANFARE May/June 2000 Page 292-293 by Stephen Ellis

HEARING THE CALL Larry Edward Vote and Jeffrey Silberschlag, cond; St. Mary's Brass SONORA S022591CD (61:51) SHATIN Hearing the Call. Fantasia sobre el Flamenco. FROOM Kick-Off! PATTERSON Fantasy and Stomping Music. DYMIOTIS Brass Septet. EYERLY Sinfonia

Heads up! The brass is coming.

No, not your company's owners or some Armed Forces bigwigs. It's St. Mary's Brass, a resident ensemble at St. Mary's College of Maryland. Yes, it's brass, brass, and more brass in this invigorating program of recent works by some youngish American composers who can write the pants off anyone when it comes to this repertoire.
Judith Shatin's two-minute Hearing the Call - smartly, crisply scored for two trumpets and two snare drums - is the eponymous work for this collection, and is the perfect ceremonial attention-getter. She follows this work up with Fantasia sobre el Flamenco for two trumpets, two trombones, and tuba (1998), a clash of bright and dark melodies borne by regimented and free-flowing rhythms. David Froom's Kick-Off! for Brass Septet captures the excitement of a football contest, from the music's first "play" through to the work's conclusion, a "rush to the goal line," as composer Froom puts it. Robert Patterson's Fantasy and Stomping Music for brass septet begins quietly, deeply, almost mournfully - in contrast to the music heard to this point. The fantasy section slips and glissandos along mostly in garrulous fashion for about 10 minutes. Then the stomping music portion takes over, but not with the wild contrast that its title implies; it contains simply a more animated and brighter gathering of sonorities, with a delicious "drunken brass" episode near the end.

Cyprus-born Phanos Dymiotis wrote his short, five-movement Brass Septet in 1998. He brings unity to the work by employing the same theme, in varied form, at the beginning of each movement. The culminating fugue is triumphant. Scott Eyerly's Sinfonia for Brass Octet was inspired by a huge cottonwood tree. This is quite a substantial work. Its middle movement mimics turn-of-the-(20th) century elegance as imagined at a mansion in summertime. In the last movement, a brief opening chorale gives way to a "storm king" finale, imitating a thunderstorm that Eyerly experienced at the Ragsdale artists' colony.

What performances! The brass players of St. Mary's Brass are culled from St. Mary's faculty members and Maryland/New Jersey/New York area musicians, who are all profiled individually in notes in the back of the program booklet. Brass enthusiasts everywhere: This is grand stuff, with sound and invention as dynamic as the perfonnances.

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