Composed by

Malcom Arnold (Oct 1921 – Sep 2006) in 1960

Duration

Approx. 14 mins

Instrumentation

Brass Quintet

As one of the youngest musicians to ever be appointed principal instrumentalist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra, it is no wonder that Sir Malcom Arnold’s brass pieces are held in high esteem by players. An absolute classic, it established the instrumentation of 2 trumpets, French horn, trombone and tuba as the standard for brass quintets. Written for the New York Brass Quintet, the work had immediate impact and success.

This composition is divided into 3 movements:

Movement I: Allegro Vivace pits a duet of rambling, gallivant trumpets against a more sober trio of trombone, horn and tuba. Not long after that, Arnold passes the melody off to other instruments in the group while constantly growing the texture of the movement and the theme.

Movement II: Chaconne, in comparison to the other two movements, is darker and slower. This movement is where Arnold shows off his writing for trombone, with a notorious trombone cadenza. The movement resolves into an air of semi-tranquility.

The last movement, Con Brio, is bright and full of vigour as its name suggests. This movement takes the tragic sound and creates brightness while showing off all of the instruments. The piece ends with an accelerando forced by the two trumpets alternating, driving the piece to its end.

MALCOM ARNOLD

  1. His famous music composed for the movie, The Bridge on the River Kwai, was completed in 10 days.
  2. Was appointed as the 3rd trumpet in the London Philharmonic Orchestra soon after and rose quickly to principal trumpet.
  3. Joined the army but after taking as much as he could stand (2 years), in desperation, he shot himself in the foot and was discharged.
  4. He was in poor health, suffering from alcoholism and depression.
  5. His poor health did not stop him from completing various works and pieces, including the Peterloo Overture and the set of four Cornish Dances.
Malcom Arnold
photo credit: Wikipedia

RECOMMENDED RECORDING

BERLIN BRASS QUINTET
Trumpets: Timofej Stordeur, Dominik Gaus
French Horn: Alexandre Zanetta
Trombone: Vladimir Vereš
Tuba: Mateusz Dudek

Recorded in the concert hall of the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) 2016