Saturday, 7 March 2015

Music for brass ensemble

Holmboe's writing for brass is, in my opinion, an impressive feature of his orchestral works. It's also noticeable that the trumpet and trombone concertos are the most popular of the concertos. It's not surprising, then, that Holmboe also wrote a number of works specifically for brass. This entry deals with the following recorded works:
  • Brass Quintet No.1, op.79 (M.212)
  • Fanfare, op.121 (M.274) for 3 trumpets and tympani
  • Brass Quintet No.2, op.136 (M.293)
  • Notater (Notations), op.140 (M.298) for 3 trombones and tuba
  • Concerto for Brass, op.157 (M.317) for 15 brass instruments and percussion
  • Egilskvad (Egill's Ballad), op.185 (M.352) for baritone and brass quintet

Brass Quintets

The first brass quintet is fairly frequently recorded. The second quintet has appeared less often. The only performance of both quintets is by Art of Brass Copenhagen on From the Merry Life of a Spy (Da Capo 8.226001), along with other Danish works for brass quintet.

Brass Quintet No.1, performed by the Swedish Brass Quintet, has been released by BIS on multiple occasions. It appears on a collection called Music for Brass Ensemble, originally on vinyl (BIS LP 248) and then on a more extensive CD version (BIS CD 248). It is also included on the Holmboe disc featuring the Cello Concerto (BIS CD 78).

The first quintet is performed by the Chaconne Brass on Dancing in the Dark (Deux-Elles Limited DXL 1141), along with a variety of other works for brass quintet.

The Stockholm Philharmonic Brass Ensemble (Filharmonins Brassensemble Stockholm) also perform the first quintet. The original release was on LP in around 1970 (Swedish Society Discofil SLT 33200) but in 2014 the album became available on a variety of download services.

There is at least one other performance of the first quintet available on LP (but apparently not in any other format). Terminology is confusing in this instance. In Rapaport's catalogue of Holmboe's music, the following three recordings are among those listed:
  • Danish Brass Quintet (Fona TF 125)
  • Royal Danish Brass (Rondo Grammofon RLP 8303)
  • Royal Orchestra Brass Quintet (Point P 5306)
However, it is certain that the second and third listings, at least, are one and the same recording.

There is also a reference to Fona on the Point Records release. However, what little other information is available on Fona TF 125 suggests it is a different release, with quite different couplings by Jorgensen, Roikjer and Schmidt.

For Brass Quintet No.2, there is also some confusion as there are two different listings for performances by the "Copenhagen Brass Quintet" and I have not been able to ascertain whether these are the same or different recordings. There is a CD often called Brass Music from St Petersburg and Copenhagen with works by Nielsen, Ewald and Jørgensen (Classico CLASSCD 169).

There is also an LP from about 1987, where the couplings are works by Bentzon and Ramsöe (KMK Records 031286).

Other works

The disc Holmboe på Holmen (Classico CLASSCD 679) includes recordings of the Fanfare, Notater, the Concerto for Brass and Egilskvad. This is the only recording of the Fanfare and Egilskvad. The disc also has the Notturno for wind quintet and the Quartetto Medico (discussed in this entry). The disc is included in a 10-disc box set called Spirales: Snapshots Of Contemporary Classical Music (Classico/Membran 233317).

There is also a recording of Notater on an LP called The Scandinavian Trombone featuring Torbjörn Kroon (Rondo Grammofon RLP 8307). Based on the dates I am fairly certain it is a different recording, although it is noticeable how often the Royal Danish Brass logo appears on recordings of this brass repertoire! Rapaport includes another recording released only on cassette, but it is highly likely it is the same as this one.

Finally, there is another recording of the Concerto for Brass, performed by the Scandinavian Brass Ensemble, on a disc called Brass Festival (BIS CD 265 and LP 265). It seems that only the CD edition warranted a warning about its volume.

No comments: