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Four Times Five (2014)

for brass quintet


FOUR TIMES FIVE is a four movement suite for brass quintet. 

After talking to trumpeter Allan Dean in July 2014 about what kind of shape this piece would take, the only real guideline was that it should be a suite. The rest was up to me. I knew that I wanted the piece to be fun for both the performer and the audience so as I wrote each movement, I envisioned certain personas that depicted such. The melodies, harmonies, and form (to an extent) began taking on playful and whimsical characteristics and the title is derived from that idea: four movements, five players.


In describing the character of the first movement the word that first comes to mind is ‘impetuous'. This character is full of energy, running from one task to another, often without completing anything. In keeping with this idea we hear a lot of bright harmonies and driving syncopated rhythms. Initially everything is tied down to a D flat pedal in the tuba, other times the music is allowed to wander freely.


The character who seems to emerge from second movement is somewhat wistful and given to nostalgic reflection. The melody is full of soulful sighs and the harmonies are piquant. The bluesy melodies and harmonies should create a sense of wishfulness. 


The waltz-like third movement brings to mind the kind of character who is genuinely warm and outgoing, and yet who cannot refrain from dropping barbed comments into a conversation. A heart of gold, but an occasionally acid tongue. Perhaps this is the reason for the slight spikiness of some of the harmonies. The tempo here is leisurely and graceful, one predominant feature being the the circling motion round three major chords a third apart.


For me the fourth movement brings to mind a generous, uncomplicated character, yet not without a liking for practical jokes. The tempo is leisurely throughout with the pervasive presence of a simple ostinato, which stops just before it outwears its welcome! More reflective passages ensue before return of the initial theme and a joyful flourish to bring the suite to a close.





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