Composer: Joyce, Brian
Instrumentation: Brass Quintet Instruments: 2 Trumpets, Horn, Trombone and Tuba
Although composed in 1974, these dances for Brass Quintet reflect the Renaissance Dance style. The Five Renaissance Dances are hardly at the cutting edge of 20th century compositional techniques, but I think of them simply as good clean fun, both for the composer and the players. Hopefully, audiences will enjoy them as well.
I was a cello student in the early seventies when my school, Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, acquired a set of seven viola da gambas. Along with most of the other cellists at the time, I suddenly found myself a charter member of the new Consort of Viols. In my studies as a composition major I had been working in a more-or-less non-tonal vein for a couple of years. I now came face to face with this Elizabethan consort literature which, although decidedly triadic, retained just enough modality to keep it from behaving according to the rules of functional harmony. Exposure to the music of Byrd, Gibbons, Susato and Praetorius was not without effect: many compositional possibilities suggested themselves in the understated sophistication of rhythms, textures and phrasing. These dances (which, incidentally, were first written in only three voices) were composed in 1974. In true Renaissance fashion, they were originally conceived without reference to a specific performing ensemble; when they were played at all, they were played by viols. In October of 1990 a trombonist friend pointed out that I seemed to have very little brass music to my name. Thinking that this suite would wear the sound of brasses well, I quickly arranged it for brass quintet, and so was able to fill this embarrassing gap in my output.
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