CANADIAN BRASS: BRAHMS ON BRASS PROJECT
The inspiration for Canadian Brass to undertake the music of Brahms came from an innovative adaptation of the 1897 Eleven Chorale Preludes for Organ, Op. 122 by arranger and trombone virtuoso Ralph Sauer. Ralph’s comprehensive knowledge of the brass quintet medium and his high regard for these Preludes led him to this mission. In Ralph’s words, the Preludes represent “Brahms’ musical testament. Profound meditations on life and death, the Preludes can be considered the quintessence of his art.”
After beginning rehearsals of the Preludes, Canadian Brass trumpeters Brandon Ridenour and Chris Coletti reached into their own recollections playing the piano Waltzes, Opus 39. They both recognized how perfectly suited these waltzes would be for adaptation to modern brass instruments. It has been said that this music exhibits some of Brahms’ most technically proficient writing – with refined melody and a rhythmic individuality that he had exhibited right from the start of his career. Transporting the listener through so many moods, these Waltzes conjure up gypsy music, Bohemian folksong and whirling Viennese soirees, but overall they reflect the German Spirit.
Separating these two major Brahms collections is the Ballade, Opus 10, No. 1 from 1854. Brandon Ridenour has profoundly captured the drama inherent in this work in his compelling adaptation. With its quiet opening and quiet closing the Ballade stands neatly between the spirited Waltzes and the reflective and lyrical Chorale Preludes.
Each of the pieces performed on this CD expresses the powerful music of Brahms from an entirely new perspective. The distribution of parts between brass instruments brings a new dimension and sound to these classic pieces and the brass in particular offers opportunities to hear new colors, timbres and musical inflections. The brass ensemble repertoire has been greatly enhanced with these unbelievably significant new contributions.
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