Chapter 1 ‘The Brass Trio’
In 2006 we started as a professional brass trio in The Netherlands with a nice variety of music for trumpet, french horn and trombone. The name of the ensemble ‘Continuous Brass’ has been decided on the spot. We all three were members of the chamber orchestra Continuo Rotterdam and wanted to explore the Dutch market for small ensembles. A few of the repertoire pieces we knew already like the famous Sonata by Francis Poulenc. Many brass players will have studied this in high school or in the academy. From the Baroque period there were some transcriptions from composers like J.S. Bach and G.F. Händel which always sound nicely on brass instruments. We wanted to get deeper in original compositions and happily our Dutch composers have been creative in this field. Marius Flothuis connected with the Concertgebouw orchestra has composed a Sonatina (1945), Jan Koetsier wrote a very nice and demanding composition based on Mozart melodies ‘Figaro-metamorphosen’ (1992) and in 2007 Marco de Goeij wrote his ‘Intrada’ for us which we performed live for the Dutch prime minister J.P. Balkenende who opened a cultural building in Capelle a/d IJssel near Rotterdam. This Intrada can be watched on YouTube by clicking here. American composers have been also very productive in composing for brass trios like Anthony Plog, Eric Ewazen, Robert Muczynski, David Uber, Paul Gay, Eddie Lewis and many more. In this formation we have done many recitals and performances in festivals. The idea was that a small ensemble can operate swiftly and is affordable.
After a few years playing brass trios we decided to add a pianist. In this way we could make our recitals more versatile. Our first combination was a recital programm for trumpet, trombone and piano with compositions by Boris Blacher (Divertimento), Jan Koetsier (Irisches Trio & Gran Trio), Herbert L. Clarke (Cousins) and Joseph Turrin (Fandango). In this setting our pianist could play also solo and accompany us individually with trumpet- and trombone soli. Later on we did the same in adding the french horn into our programms. Brass trios with piano accompaniment are rare but Paul Gabaye wrote his fantastic ‘Recréation’, Jean-Marie Depelsenaire ‘Dialogue avec la nuit’, William Schmidt ‘Chamber Music’ and Kerry Turner ‘Bandera’. Summarizing plenty of possibilities and repertoire!
During this transformation we added a new meaning to our ensemble name Continuous Brass. In Dutch we expressed it as follows “Continu muziek waar het plezier vanaf straalt’ meaning in English non stop music in which fun radiates and also referring to the fact that the players in a brass trio need a very good endurance. Possibly it sounds better in Dutch-;) Dutch composer and friend Marco de Goeij remained very creative towards us because in 2012 he wrote his ‘Jazz impromptus’ for brass trio. We premièred this again in Bodegraven and the public was very enthusiastic. The atmosphere in the piece is from utterly intimate to exuberant jazzy moods. The composition is quite extensive (19 minutes) and yet we have to record it. But if we do it will be for sure on YouTube!
Next time more about our changing into a brass quartet.