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Posted October 1, 2010
If you're a brass fan, you're sure to appreciate this. If not, I think you still just might find yourself loving it.
The Gomalan Brass Quintet performs admirably in this compilation of movie themes or works famously used in film (namely, Barber's Adagio for Strings). The fact that it is a brass "quintet" rather than a brass band or wind band makes this CD all the more interesting -- and at first listen, a little disappointing -- to listen to.
Firstly, the disappointment is really only because when I think of John Williams' scores for Indiana Jones, Star Wars, ET, etc., I cannot help but remember the original recordings, accompanied by the visuals of the films. Everything is "BIG!" But with a brass quintet, things are remarkably smaller in scale. But after 2-3 listenings, the Gomalan Brass Quintet's ability to stir the imagination with creative playing more than make up for the lack of strings and percussion section -- after all, they are just 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, 1 French horn, and 1 tuba.
Probably the piece most suited for the quintet is Bernstein's "West Side Story Suite" - I think it's brilliant, even without a percussion section which Bernstein used so marvelously in his original score. Wonderful! MAMBO!
I thoroughly enjoyed Barber's Adagio for Strings (or we should say, Adagio for Strings for Brass Quintet) as well. Its delicately balanced playing as well as the subtleties, smooth lines, quietness, and crescendos of the piece are all appreciated here.
In the "Space Suite," science fiction themes from Star Wars to ET to Star Trek, Independence Day and Apollo 13 are featured here and are excellent. The one departure, however, would be a decidedly jazzed up rendition of Williams' "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" that I still have a hard time listening to.
Danny Elfman's "Simpsons" theme sounds as if it were written for brass quintet - great!