A-Z April 2015

Q is for Quintet

Wow, this year’s A-Z blogging challenge is going quickly and we’re at our first “tricky” letter. Today is letter Q and I have chosen to share a quintet of quintets with you today.

As you may know, I am a brass player through and through. I began playing the cornet at the tender age of 7 years old and played right up until I had to stop for medical reasons a couple of years ago. I played the Bb cornet for most of that time but I also had several spells playing the Eb cornet (the soprano cornet), and I played the Bb trumpet alongside them for a long long time too. I have played solos, in duets, trios, quartets, quintets, octets, 10 piece bands, competitive brass bands, massed bands, orchestras, dance bands, big bands, wind bands, concert/military bands, pit orchestras…the list goes on!

Some of my best playing in terms of my abilities and my musicality came when I have played in small ensembles. The discipline required of small group playing cannot be underestimated. You have to be on your toes with your own playing, but you have to be ultra-aware of what is happening with the other musicians in the group at all times. You almost have to be psychic! The way that small group music is written and arranged means that it is much more difficult than bigger works. They tend to be intricately balanced, and all members in the group play an equally demanding role in the music which doesn’t happen so much in bigger bands. Some parts can be “hidden” in bigger ensembles such as bands or orchestras but in a small group, every single part (and player) is exposed and has to be as technically and musically proficient as the rest.

I have chosen 5 videos to share with you to demonstrate the kind of thing I’m talking about – a quintet of quintets.  You may not want to watch all of these, but if you only have the time or inclination to listen to one, let me try to guide you.

If you are a brass player yourself, you will appreciate the individual technical skill displayed in the first video – Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. It is over 8 minutes long but you will thank me for the time investment if you watch it all!

If you are not a brass player but appreciate good musical skill, any of the next three will perhaps be of more interest to you. They are Penny Lane, Amazing Grace, and Pachelbel’s Canon and are all played by Canadian Brass.

If you want to listen to an arrangement of something a little “different” then the last one is the one for you. It is Canadian Brass again, and they are playing a mashup of the Hallelujah Chorus and When The Saints.

You will see why I love this grouping of instruments so much. The cleanness of the brass sound, the clarity of that technical playing and the warmness of the tones.

I hope you find something to enjoy in the following videos:






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