Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

The 20th Century Album

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AllMusic Review by

Always eager to explore new material and to expand its repertoire, the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble turns its attention to twentieth century works in this double-disc collection from Decca. The literature for brass has grown considerably in the modern era, and many composers have turned to the brass choir as an ideal medium for hard-edged sonorities, transparent counterpoint, and harmonic clarity. Though much of this music tends toward conservative tastes -- fanfares dominate and triadic and quartal harmonies are prevalent -- there is enough stylistic diversity in the program to sustain the listener's interest. Dignified works by Benjamin Britten, Michael Tippett, and Arthur Bliss are balanced with droll pieces, such as Leonard Salzedo's Divertimento, André Previn's Four Outings, and the delightful Sonata for horn, trumpet, and trombone by Francis Poulenc. Havergal Brian's menacing Fanfare from The Cenci and Gunther Schuller's somber Symphony for brass and percussion introduce more challenging harmonies and darker colors while showing that this group's expressive range is indeed broad. Some familiar works are also presented, such as the Sokol Fanfare from Leos Janácek's Sinfonietta and Kurt Weill's Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, and both receive fine performances on this album. The recorded sound is excellent, capturing the bright resonance of this ensemble in a responsive acoustic.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
Fanfares for Britannicus
2
3
4
The Cenci, opera
5
6
Suite for brass septet
7
8
9
10
Divertimento, for brass sextet
11
12
13
14
15
Four Outings for Brass
16
17
18
19
Sonata for horn, trumpet & trombone, FP 33
20
21
22
Symphony for brass & percussion, Op 16
23
24
25
26

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
Sinfonietta for orchestra ("Military," "Sokol Festival"), JW 6/18
2
3
Fanfares Liturgiques for brass ensemble
4
5
Symphony for Brass Instruments, Op. 123
6
7
8
9
Morgenmusik, for brass ensemble (from Plöner Musiktag)
10
11
12
Kleine Dreigroschenmusik, suite for wind orchestra (based on "Die Dreigroschenoper")
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
blue highlight denotes track pick