Amos Miller writes: “The release of this album marks the 25th anniversary of Onyx Brass. During this period, we have premiered around 200 new works, and believe that new music is utterly essential both for the development of brass chamber music and to the wider survival and success of classical music."
Gaudete Brass gives here an exceptionally clean performance of wildly difficult and stylistically different musical compositions, and it’s hard to stress enough just how important that is for new commissions. Much can be made of the musical content within these new pieces of music specifically because of the strength of this ensemble’s performances. Between sections of deeply emotive, soloistic playing, we are also treated to completely off the cuff technical wonders in virtuoso ensemble playing. The American brass tradition is thriving in this recording on all fronts, and that fact in itself is truly worth celebrating.
The Stockholm Chamber Brass here presents a well-played program of Renaissance music arranged for modern brass, with the pluses and caveats that implies. The music’s fantastic and very well-selected: Susato, Dowland, Monteverdi, Gesualdo. The program itself smartly combines these, moving from lively dances and martial airs to arias and slow works of great beauty. Many tracks add percussion to the mix. The Monteverdi ‘moresca’ (track 25) is irresistible. The brass ensemble plays marvelously throughout, especially in slower, more introspective selections. Only the very first track, ‘La Spagna’, features a trombone solo that I think sounds hurried. Thoughtfully, one trumpet is on the far left and the other on the far right, and even more thoughtfully, the booklet tells you who’s who.