THOMPSON BRASS ENSEMBLE
MUSIC FOR BRASS & ORGAN
Johann Sebastian Bach, Dietrich Buxtehude, André Campra, Giovanni Gabrieli, Alan Hovhaness, Engelbert Humperdinck, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Robert Schumann, Richard Strauss
THOMPSON BRASS ENSEMBLE
BARBARA BRUNS, organ
James Thompson, trumpet
Richard Given, trumpet
Kevin Owen, French horn
George Sullivan, French horn
Philip Swanson, trombone
Gabriel Langfur, bass trombone
Fisk Organ: Opus 55 – Old West Church, Boston
Fisk Organ: Opus 97 – St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gloucester
Fisk Organ: Opus 137 – Christ Church, Andover
A Candlewood Digital Natural Presence Recording
MUSIC FOR BRASS AND ORGAN: A BRIEF LOOK AT A SHORT HISTORY
The sound of an organ and a brass ensemble playing together strikes us today as having such a natural magnificence that it’s easy to forget that, in its current form, it is quite a new tradition. The earliest original compositions from established composers that are scored specifically for organ and brass ensemble are less than a century old, and those early works are scarce indeed. The vast majority of the repertoire dates from within the past 50 years, and consists either of original works (often by composers specializing in music for organ, for brass, or in church music) or of transcriptions of music originally scored for other forces.
The effect of the transcriptions has been to extend the brass and organ repertoire back four centuries, to the early Baroque. So successful have some of these transcriptions been that some music, in particular the antiphonal works of Gabrieli, but also later pieces such as the Grand Choeur Dialogué of Eugène Gigout, are at least as familiar in their organ and brass versions as in their original scorings.
Although new to the scene as a defined musical ensemble, the combination of brass and organ did not spring from nowhere. The roots are long and many. The history of organs playing with ensembles that included trumpets and horns, such as small orchestras, is ancient; the custom was practically universal in the German city-states of Bach’s time and for at least a generation before. There is also a long history of works for trumpet solo or duo with organ.
Meanwhile, there is a parallel history of brass ensemble music, especially in Northern Europe during the Baroque. These tended to be martial or celebratory works – fanfares in particular – and often included tympani or other drums.
The final tradition that seems to have played a role is rather ad hoc and little documented, yet is perhaps the most ancient and ubiquitous of all, and also perhaps the most important of all these roots. This is the tradition of inviting one or more solo wind or brass players into the organ loft on high occasions, both civic and religious (there having been no clear line between the two throughout most of history). This tradition survives to this day, as freelance brass players can attest by the number of requests they get in advance of Christmas and Easter, not to mention high-profile weddings.
One of the joys of the music on this CD is that it takes us beyond the familiar high-occasion repertoire for brass and organ, revealing a range of mood and versatility of sound and style that most of us have few opportunities to get to hear.
André CAMPRA (1660-1744)
SUITE OF DANCES (from Les Fêtes Vénitiennes)
Air des Musettes
Air des Espagnolles
Air pour les Arlequins
Alan HOVHANESS (1911-2000)
SENZA MISURA (from Sonata for Trumpet and Organ, Op. 200)
Engelbert HUMPERDINCK (1854-1921)
DREAM PANTOMIME (from Hänsel und Gretel)
Giovanni GABRIELI (1554-1612)
CANZON SEPTIMI TONI NO.2
Johann Sebastain BACH (1685-1750)
Organ solo: SCHMÜCKE DICH, O LIEBE SEELE, BWV 654
(Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness)
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
ADAGIO (from Four Canonic Studies)
CANZON NONI TONI (from Sacrae Symphoniae)
Dietrich BUXTEHUDE (1637-1707)
Organ solo: WIE SCHÖN LEUCHTET DER MORGENSTERN
(How brightly shines the morning star)
Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
PROCESSION OF THE NOBLES (from Mlada)
Johann Sebastain BACH
Organ Solo: FANTASIA IN G MAJOR, BWV 572 “PIÈCE D’ORGUE”
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
SOLEMN ENTRY OF THE KNIGHTS OF THE ORDER OF ST. JOHN