Monday, April 24, 2017

Alvin Etler Brass Quintet

Composer: Alvin Etler (1913-1973) studied oboe, and composition with Hindemith at Yale

Composition date: 1963
Title: Piece for Brass Quintet

Four Movement pieces

notes of interest: rhythmic counterpoint even in the "intellectual" style of writing popular in the 1960's/

Rolph Smedvig invented a story about Etler's brother dying in the korean war as a Morse code operator and that is why he hid Morse code in this piece. After Professor Manning contacted Etler's grandson he found out that the Morse code was in fact there as a sign that Etler was a ghost composer for other commercial projects he may not have wanted his name on.

1.quarter= 60

Running 16th notes in all parts give this movement a nice motor rhythm and grooving effect

2. quarter=132

 5/8 3+2 throughout

This is the movement with the "SOS" code written in. It actually sounds very idiomatic for a brass quintet to pass around this motif. It lends well to brass articulations, groove, and forward movement. The harmonies in the piece would definitely challenge anyone not familiar with this kind of writing, and may be difficult to pull of for audiences looking for a more entertaining show rather than something they have to think about it and reflect on.

3. quarter=56

Starts with a lyrical trumpet solo that could start any slow movement of a brass quintet. When the rest of the group enters we once again are in the realm of non functioning harmonies. I like the somber effect of this movement.

I wonder about composers during this time and the why the wrote music like this and their goal for that music. It's not that this music is torture to listen too or anything, but I do feel that if you are not up front with the audience about the experience they are about to receive that is can come off as confusing and not coherent.

4. quarter=138

this movement features markings such as "indistinct tonging", half valve passages and homorythmic passages. According to our fearless leader the last three bars of this movement (played in a homorythmic passage by the group) can also spell out S.H.I.T in Morse code as well. Tehee.

Me, personally.... I think this piece is pretty cool. But, and a strong one here. I am a brass player, getting my third degree in music, I played for two years in a professional brass quintet, and I have been to thousands of classical music concerts, studied musical forms, and in have a big interest in brass music. My question is, for the listener who only shares a few of these things in common with me, will they like this?

No comments:

Post a Comment