THE ANNIVERSARY ALBUM celebrates twenty-five years of Philadelphia Brass music making. Some of these pieces we’ve enjoyed performing for years; others are new, unique to Philadelphia Brass, and recorded here for the first time. The album follows the concert program most often requested; beginning with music of the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, followed by music of the twentieth century written specifically for brass quintet, and ending with the compelling rhythms and soulful melodies of the Swing Era.
Our two Baroque selections were composed under wildly different circumstances. Bach’s Wir eilen mit schwachen (We hurry with weak yet eager foot steps) is a joyous duet for soprano and alto from Cantata 78, composed amid the ornate splendor of the German High Baroque. O dulcíssime Iesu (Oh, sweetest Jesus), written during the same period, was conceived deep in the jungles of South America amid the stark simplicity of a Jesuit mission. The Jesuits used music as an important means of conversion, introducing European instruments and compositions to numerous indigenous tribes, including the Chiquitos Indians of Bolivia. The Chiquitos easily adopted European music as their own, handcrafting string instruments and participating in the daily musical activities of the church. O dulcíssime Iesu was among thousands of original manuscripts that survived the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, preserved by the Chiquitos as a part of their own culture, to be rediscovered by a Polish priest, Piotr Nawot, almost three hundred years later. Nawot has brought this bicultural heritage to worldwide attention through the Santa Cruz, Bolivia “Misiones de Chiquitos” International Baroque Music Festival, in which Philadelphia Brass has twice been honored to participate.
Mozart reveals an unusual and fascinating side of his musical personality in Fugue in C minor, which he wrote at a tumultuous juncture in his life. At the age of twenty-five he left Salzburg for Vienna, despite the recriminations of his father Leopold and against the wishes of his powerful employer, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg. The fugue is an unusually dark, perhaps angry work, with striking dissonances regularly occurring on the eleventh and thirteenth beats of the theme. Originally scored for two pianos and later transcribed for string quartet (K. 546), it is composed in the musical language of the earlier Baroque period, with contrapuntal virtuosity worthy of Bach.
Philadelphia Brass takes special pleasure in bringing to life the singing, blending capabilities of brass instruments. Both choral transcriptions on this album are Romantic in style but hearken back to earlier musical periods. Brahms composed Three Motets for five-voice choir on the text of Psalm 51, combining lush Romantic lyricism with masterfully crafted Baroque counterpoint. Durefle’s Ubi caritas, from his Four Motets on Gregorian Themes, hearkens back to the Middle Ages through the austere beauty of Gregorian Chant. The simplicity of the chant contrasts with rich Romantic harmonies in a powerful evocation of the text of charity and love.
Robert Lichtenberger is a graduate of Peabody Conservatory. For thirty years he was the staff arranger for the U.S. Army Field Band of Washington, DC. His compositions and arrangements have been performed in every state of continental U.S. by ensembles such as the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers Chorus, the National Symphony, the Dallas, Detroit, and Harrisburg Symphonies, the U.S. Marine Band, and the Boston Pops. Partita Miniatura is written “in the express hope that it can be enjoyed by audiences of all ages and diverse musical interests.” The outer two movements are ebullient romps in a rhythmic, theatrical style. The lyrical second movement juxtaposes triple and duple rhythms in a manner both natural and unsettling.
Joseph Turrin is a multifaceted musician: composer, orchestrator, conductor, pianist, and teacher. He has received numerous commissions from the New York Philharmonic and many other orchestras. The New Jersey Chamber Music Society commissioned Fanfare for Five, which premiered in 1997. Current Philadelphia Brass members Tony Cecere and Scott Mendoker were among the performers.
Copland’s The Promise of Living is taken from his Opera The Tender Land, and is based on the American folk hymn Zion’s Walls. Through wide melodic intervals and open harmonies, Copland’s music deeply evokes the American landscape; through lyric simplicity, it speaks to the common hopes and yearnings of people everywhere.
Jerry Gray wrote A String of Pearls for the Glenn Miller band, along with other Miller favorites such as Pennsylvania 6-5000 and Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Bobby Hackett is said to have improvised the famous trumpet solo in a fit of pique at his bandleader, but Miller liked it so well he insisted Hackett play it every time.
George Bassman, composer of I’m Getting Sentimental Over You, was also an orchestrator for the movie The Wizard of Oz and the musical Guys and Dolls. The song was written for and became the theme song of legendary trombonist Tommy Dorsey.
Jimmy Van Heusen, composer of Here’s that Rainy Day, was born Edward Chester Babcock. The Van Heusen stage name he adopted was inspired by a shirt collar billboard visible from his hotel window. Here’s that Rainy Day, originally composed for the short lived musical Carnival in Flanders, was made famous when recorded by the composer’s close friend, Frank Sinatra. Van Heusen is buried in the Sinatra family plot, where his marker reads “Swinging on a Star.”
It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing was the frequently expressed credo of Duke Ellington’s trumpet player, James Wesley “Bubber” Miley, who, together with trombonist Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, invented the muted “wah-wah” sound that remains a jazz staple today. Though the song preceded the beginning of the swing era by several years, it was first to use the word “swing” in the title, thereby helping to bring the term into popular parlance.
Space does not permit a biography of each of the excellent arrangers whose work is heard on this album, though some who are especially close to Philadelphia Brass need to be mentioned. Philadelphia trombonist Dale Devoe, an alumnus of the Stan Kenton Orchestra, beautifully arranged I’m Getting Sentimental Over You and Here’s That Rainy Day in the Kenton style. Don Hetrick is an excellent arranger, a veteran of the Swing Era and the WWII Air Force of which Glenn Miller was a part, and Brian’s uncle. Philadelphia trumpet player, composer, and arranger Steve Heitzer arranged O dulcíssime Iesu, Wir eilen mit schwachen, and Fugue in C minor; his creativity has added immeasurably to this album.
Philadelphia Brass wishes to thank Director of Music Greg Funfgeld and the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, PA for the generous use of their Sanctuary in the recording of this album, and Nancy Wright for her assistance in editing the text.
Recording Engineer: George Blood
Music Editors: George Blood and Brian Kuszyk
Photo Credits: Gerall Heiser and Hub Willson
Wir eilen mit schwachen (Cantata 78) (5:07) J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
arranged by S. Heitzer
Motete O dulcíssime Iesu (7:47) Anónimo (circa 1700)
Sonata edited by Piotr Nawrot
Si vitam a me quaeris arranged by S. Heitzer
Veni, sponsa, dulcis amor
Fugue in C minor, K. 426 (4:34) W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)
arranged by S. Heitzer
Three Motets , Op. 29 Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
Schaffe in mir, Gott, ein rein Herz (1:09) arranged by David Jolley
Verwirf mich nicht von deinem Angesicht (3:03)
Troste mich wieder mit deiner Hulfe (2:19)
Partita Miniatura Robert Lichtenberger (1946)
Toccata – Allegro (2:15)
Pastorale – Lento assai (3:13)
Finale – vivo con molto ritmo (2:31)
Ubi caritas (3:57) Maurice Durufle (1902-1986)
arranged by Steve Skahill
Fanfare for Five (1:50) Joseph Turrin (1947)
The Promise of Living (5:17) Aaron Copland (1900-1990)
arranged by Erik Morales
A String of Pearls (1:52) Jerry Gray (1915-1976)
arranged by Don Hetrick
I’m Getting Sentimental Over You (2:33) George Bassman (1914-1997)
arranged by Dale Devoe
Here’s That Rainy Day (2:35) Jimmy Van Heusen (1913-1990)
arranged by Dale Devoe
It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing (2:39) Duke Ellington (1899-1974)
arranged by David Kosmyna
Brian Kuszyk and Lawrence Wright, trumpet
Anthony Cecere, horn
Robert Gale, trombone
Scott Mendoker, tuba
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