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"Adieu": The composer and his work

Watch the full performance here. Created by All Star Orchestra.

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Video transcript

(Adieu by Bernard Rands) - Like many composers, and even in the historical past, I from time to time, occasionally, like to revisit something that I did earlier. Not necessary to revise, but rather to look and listen again and probably place the music in a different context. To that effect, I had written, quite a number of years ago, a very brief brass quintet called Fanfare. And because I particularly wanted to accent the fact that Gerard Schwarz was a renowned trumpeter with the New York Philharmonic before beginning his distinguished career as a conductor, I decided I would take that little fanfare, and in two parts of the work, it is in two sections, in a sense, dismantle it in the first half and then reassemble it in the second half, placing it then in another context of a string orchestra. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) - Adieu by Bernard Rands is one of the 18 Gund/Simonyi commissions that I premiered in the 2010/11 season. - It was a commission from the Seattle Symphony to, not to celebrate Gerard Schwarz leaving, but the fact that all those years, he'd been a champion of contemporary music, and so many contemporary composers know him well, he knows their work well, they've worked closely together, and I've been fortunate to be one of those. - I have to assume that he wrote for brass quintet because prior to my days as a trumpet player with the New York Philharmonic, I was in a brass quintet called The American Brass Quintet. In those days, this would be in the late '60s, there were two well known brass quintets in the United States. The New York Brass Quintet, and The American Brass Quintet, and at the age of 18, I was in The American Brass Quintet. So I assume that Bernard wrote this piece for brass quintet and strings as a, looking back into my life, as a brass player. It is a fabulous piece. Again, very short. The juxtaposition of those two quintets, the quintet of strings, one, two violins, viola, cello, bass, and two trumpets, horn, trombone, and tuba. It starts out, I would say, aggressively, loudly, with a rhythmic motive played by the violins. All these motives at the beginning are all combinations of threes and twos, but they happen in unusual places. So for example, it starts (clapping and mimicking rhythm) I mean, it's, it's a little unusual. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) After the initial statement of that, he, he repeats it, but this time he adds the violas, and then he adds the cellos. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) At the end of the phrase, he also adds the basses. Then, the brass entrance. So, it's the first entrances, the trumpet playing a solo, in a, in a sense, the same kind of threes and twos. So the trumpet plays, the rhythm is, (snapping and mimicking rhythm) (clapping) So it's threes, twos, and threes, and it carries and then eventually he, he does this whole little, his little entrance theme, and then the second trumpet comes in and compliments that, and then the horn comes in, and joins in, so now we have a trio. Next obviously, we have to get the trombone in, which he does, and then he brings in the tuba. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) After that, we have this conversation between the strings and the brass. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) Finally the brass are left alone, they can shine by themselves, and, and this wonderful little interlude that ends with the strings playing a couple of beautiful long chords. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) The next new material starts out with the horn, and now we're, we're using mutes. So what the brass do is they, they, they put something in the end of the instrument, different kind of mutes, there are straight mutes and cup mutes, and Harmon mutes, and bucket mutes and horns, basically two options, horns have their hand in the bell to make the sound a little more mellow. They can stuff the hand in the bell, which is called stopped, he does some of that, or they can use a mute, but there's only one kind of mute for the horn. So, the horn starts with the mute, then the trombone, then the second trumpet, first trumpet, eventually the tuba, and the strings now are just punctuating, rather than really answering. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) And then, the strings have a little interlude, leading to the next section of the brass, again led by the horn, trombone, tuba, second trumpet, first trumpet. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) Then we have what one could call the recapitulation of the beginning, or the repeat of the beginning, so at the very beginning, he had all the violins playing loud. Now he does the same thing, but he has all the violins playing very softly. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) This leads to the trumpet solo, second trumpet joins in, just like the first time around. The horn, trombone, and then the tuba. And then we do have this conversation, just as we did the first time, again, occasionally the strings are having a conversation, sometimes they're just punctuating with little gestures, among, or during the brass solo group. And the brass really now, is full fledged solo quintet. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) Brass playing with the strings, and then accompanying roll, and until, pretty much like that, until the end, and the brass just flourish at the end, and it ends, as you would expect Adieu to end. How would you expect, if someone says goodbye, and you can just see them sailing away, and, and so it ends, you know, someone says goodbye, and then, they disappear. And in fact, that's how it ends with the strings disappearing, as the brass play strong, they stop, and the chord remains as the strings disappear. (Adieu by Bernard Rands) - It's very difficult, to, to strike the balance, between informing a potential listener, what might strike them, and how they might listen and not prescribing them, and putting constraints on them, there is only one way to listen, that's to open your ears, and open your mind, and open your heart, and just let it take you where it, where it, where it will.