Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arlington VA church performs brass music by Russian composer Victor Ewald

Sunday, Nov. 9, the Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA presented the last two of the three movements of what appear to be Brass Quintet #1 in B-flat minor by relatively uncommonly heard Russian composer Victor Ewald (1860-1935) (in Russian: "Виктор Владимирович Эвальд"), who wrote mainly for "conical brass instruments". The church program called it “Symphony for Brass Choir” and the youth group played the last two movements (Moderato and Allegro Moderato). But a quick search finds performances on YouTube of the first and third movements. The thematic material in the first movement is very similar to that in the finale, with minor music changed to major, with alternations of triadic and chromatic scale-like tunes, and simplified “sonatina” form. The material may sound familiar, if a bit perfunctory. Ewald composed four brass quintets.

The modern brass quintet seemed to comprise two trumpets, trombone, French horn and tuba. The Wikipedia article on the composer suggests that in the composer’s times older analogues of these instruments were used.

This composer’s music also interesting because it may have influenced some of the music of Gustav Mahler, particularly the “Nachtmusik” movements from the Seventh Symphony, which seemed to find their way into film years before Leonard Bernstein made the work standard concert fare.

Trinity Presbyterian sometimes offers an interesting variety of late romantic or modern instrumental or organ music in the service.

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