SWISS FACES - GENEVA BRASS
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For this record, we wanted to highlight Swiss creations by recording only original pieces for brass quintet by Swiss composers. So let the composers present their work to us ...
Fracas du Temps
(2017, Klarthe Editions)
CHRISTOPHE STURZENEGGER (*1976)
“This piece is the result of one of the Geneva Brass Festival’s many wonderful collaborations. In 2017, the Geneva Brass met the Fanfare du Loup for a project inspired by the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and Julian Barnes’ book “Fracas du Temps”. This eponymous piece, which I had written for a large ensemble, was then arranged for a brass quintet. In the first movement, some of the counterpoints may recall the moods of the Russian composer’s quartets. In the second movement, a rhythmic quotation from his 7th symphony slips into the dance.” - Ch. Sturzenegger
Dix miniatures pour quintette de cuivres
(2020, Woodbrass Music, commissioned by the GB)
ALEXANDRE MASTRANGELO (*1989)
“The 10 miniatures are built around a series of 14 notes. This series is modally varied throughout these short pieces, which reveal very different moods. They lead us through different styles, forms and instrumentations, somewhat like a postcard slideshow. The instrumental set ranges from a solo instrument to the entire quintet, including a trumpet duet and a horn, trombone and tuba trio. The new sounds thus created are an invitation to the wandering and reflection suggested by these miniatures.” - A. Mastrangelo
S’isch äbe-ne-mönsch uf Ärde
(2007, Musikverlag Frank)
trad./arr. THOMAS RÜEDI (*1969)
The first traces of this moving Bernese folk song date back to 1741. It tells of the tragic love affair of Vreneli and Hansjoggeli, separated by the Guggisberg Mountain and then by war. One cannot help seeing it as a Swiss-German version of Romeo and Juliet. The song has become part of the Swiss cultural heritage and has been popularised by Stephan Eicher. The Bernese euphonium player Thomas Rüedi wrote this beautiful transcription for brass quintet.
Sechs Bagatellen, op.117b
(1989, Pizzicato Verlag)
GION ANTONI DERUNGS (1935-2012)
Gion Antoni Derungs’ “Sechs Bagatellen” enrich the brass quintet repertoire with six short, refreshing and witty pieces. Their density and well-defined character are reminiscent of György Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles for wind quintet. However, as the Grisons composer left no text related to them, one wonders whether he was aware of this “twin” cycle. The Bagatelles alternate between lively and calm characters and allow each of the five musicians to express himself, either with a lyrical phrase or with a virtuoso outburst. Pay attention to the fifth Bagatelle, which highlights the tuba in a movement of wildly uneven bars.
Scherzophrénie en Ut
(2019, Edition Peters, commissioned by the GB)
RICHARD DUBUGNON (*1968)
“This one-movement piece was composed in 2019 in Yaddo, U.S.A. for the Geneva Brass. It takes on several different styles or “personalities”, hence the pun in the title. Four distinct characters follow one another. They overlap and intertwine in a virtuoso counterpoint that pushes the performers to the limits of their technical possibilities. While remaining expressive and playful throughout, the music is dissonant, rhythmic (jazzy, funky) and openly tonal with harmonies inherited from Richard Strauss.” - R. Dubugnon
Li Plaïsi de Mouodzonaï
(2000, Klarthe Editions)
KURT STURZENEGGER (*1949)
“As its title indicates (“The Cowherd’s pleasure” in Leytron dialect), this piece comprising a solo improvisation and a rather rustic waltz reflects the extraordinary atmosphere I have felt on each of my countless walks in the Valais mountains. And what could be more appropriate than an accompaniment of brass instruments, so pampered in this beautiful canton... where even the “Flying Dutchman” got lost!” - K. Sturzenegger
(2020, Éditions Marc Reift, dedicated to the GB)
JEAN-FRANÇOIS MICHEL (*1957)
“This piece consists of four movements or “faces”, sculpted like a bust and ending with a more or less expansive chorale. The first movement, “Nostalgia”, depicts the state of languor caused by the inevitable passing of time. The second movement, “Heroism”, makes full use of brass instruments’ virtuosity. In “Astonishment”, the instrumental colours – in search of a sound climate leading to inner peace – are highlighted. The final movement, “Joie”, describes the enthusiasm and exhilaration of the quest for plenitude. This can also pass through moments of softness and leads to a grandiose finale.”
The overall ensemble is nothing less than first class. » International Trumpet Guild
Just like the famous Swiss army knife, the Geneva Brass chamber music ensemble is multi-purpose and multi-talented. Its warm distinctive sound shines while sharply interpreting a Bach fugue, sweetly whispering a Cosma ballad or gently humming a traditional Alphorn melody. The ensemble can be powerful when playing alongside an organ or a big band but can also be soft and tender when accompanying a choir, panpipes or even a harp.
The Geneva-based brass quintet is an ardent supporter of Swiss culture and regularly commissions new pieces to expand its repertoire. It also frequently tours internationally: notably being invited to the Cervantino Festival (Mexico), SliderAsia (Hong Kong), Jeju International Wind Ensemble Festival (South Korea), Lieksa Brass Week (Finland), Brassurround (Spain) and the Eurocuivres Festival (France). At ease in any situation, the quintet has not only performed in some of the world’s most beautiful concert halls, such as Geneva’s Victoria Hall or Tianjin’s Grand Theatre, but also with its feet in the water of Lake Geneva, in South African shanty towns and on the Great Wall of China.
Created in 2001, the ensemble brings together five talented musicians, who all hold a master’s degree from the Geneva University of Music. It founded and organised ten editions of the internationally renowned Geneva Brass festival, from 2010 to 2020, and from 2021 will organise a concert series in the greater Geneva area.
Geneva Brass is supported by the City and State of Geneva.
Baptiste Berlaud and Lionel Walter, trumpets
Christophe Sturzenegger, horn and alphorn
David Rey, trombone
Eric Rey, tuba