This was the title of the last presentation to the Society by Ed Tinline. As the title suggests it was a presentation around the trumpet but Ed also included examples of other brass instruments some of which he brought in and one he attempted to play.
The essential point about brass instruments is that the sound is formed by the lips in a mouth piece and then amplified by a conical tube. Originally, in ancient times, the tubes were very long but the idea of coiling them into the current shapes we see in the modern orchestra made them more manageable. The addition of valves also made creating a range of sounds possible. The brass instruments differ from a saxophone say, because the sound in that instrument is created by a reed – similar to a clarinet – so although made from brass it is not in fact classed as a brass instrument. Although almost all instruments were made of metal, the serpent for example was made of wood but still relied on a mouthpiece to make the sound. He also explained the role of ‘crooks’ to alter the pitch of the instrument.
Ed played a mixed selection of pieces starting with an extract from the Messiah which gave the evening its title. We then heard Purcell’s Sonata for trumpet in D major and this was followed by Albinoni’s Concerto for trumpet and organ in F major – and odd paring of instruments but it did in fact work quite well.
A type of horn is the alphorn and Leopold Mozart composed a concerto for alphorn and strings arranged by Dennis Brain. Rimsky Korsakov’s Concerto for trombone and wind band premiered at a garrison concert in 1878. To finish the first half we heard part 1 of the Horn Concerto op 23 by Mathew Taylor who was born in 1964 in London. Well, we didn’t quite finish the first half with that piece but with Flanders and Swann’s Ill Wind, a take off to words of the famous rondo from Mozart’s Horn Concerto No 4.
… and the second half started off with the real thing. Mozart wrote his horn concertos for his friend Joseph Leutgeb with whom he had a lifelong – if occasionally stormy friendship. The instrument of the day was difficult to play and Leutgeb was obviously a skilled performer.
A familiar horn piece is of course Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man written to rally the troop at the entry of the USA into the Second World War. It’s a piece which is frequently played at public occasions.
An interesting arrangement for brass of Chopin’s Mazurka No 47 in A minor by D Abrams followed. Gerard Hoffnung was one of the tuba players in this witty piece. Then it was the first movement of Vaughan William’s Tuba Concerto composed in 1954. It was originally regarded as a rather eccentric piece but has become an established part of the repertoire.
The final three pieces were by Sibelius: Allegro for brass ensemble and triangle, a piece he submitted anonymously for a competition but did not win! Holst’s March from the Moorside Suite came next and then part of Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony to finish. Except, not quite because we heard the Pasadena Roof Orchestra play a piece featuring the Sousaphone. The instrument was designed for street performance where a big sound was needed but a tuba was too difficult to carry (see photo).
A fascinating evening which illustrated the various issues surrounding brass instruments as well a careful selection of music from several eras.
Next meeting is on 15 April and will feature modern music