Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bohme Sextet

A few weeks ago in class we listened to the Bohme Trompeten Sextett. This piece was written in 1907 by Oscar Bohme. Bohme was was born in a small town near Dresden and his father was also a trumpeter. After attending music school in Leipzig Bohme had a long career as a trumpeter in a variety of ensembles including the Budapest Opera from 1894-1896, followed by twenty four years playing in the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.

This piece was written in the romantic style popular in Russia at the time. It is one of the only original Romantic works for brass ensemble. When I played in Axiom we played a lot of music by Ewald, and we on occasion referred to him Bohme lite. There is something about this particular piece that really exploits the rich sounds of brass that in my opinion, Ewald was unable to do.

The instrumentation of the sextett is very interesting to me. It specifies a solo cornet part, two trumpets, alto horn, tenor horn, and baritone. In modern performances it is common for the alto horn part to be played on french horn, the tenor horn on trombone, and the baritone part on tuba. While in Axiom we played this piece at the Tanglewood summer festival in the Berkshires with Boston Symphony trumpeter Mike Martin playing the solo cornet part. We also decided to use a radically different instrumentation than most ensembles. We used cornet, trumpet, flugel horn, french horn, euphonium, and tuba. We liked the idea of having the bottom four voices playing conical instruments and thought the sound of this instrumentation was less bright and more rounded which suited the style of the music. I still have a recording of that performance if anyone ever wants to hear it. Just let me know.

I thought the Atlantic Brass Quintets recording of this piece was fantastic. I spent a lot of my undergrad years listening to the Center City Brass Quintets recording and always have that in my head when I hear this piece. It was nice to hear a different recording with different ideas that were really well done.

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