Elegy for Brass Quintet, Op. 6July 14, 2010 by: Simon
Dedicated to Jesse O’Neill
Scored for 2 Trumpets, Trombone, French Horn, and Tuba.
The first notes of Elegy were written during one of my darker times, and the final bars were completed during my happiest. Regardless of the dramatic mood-shifts, Elegy is very sombre and unsettled, never quite resolving, shifting from key to key through extreme chromaticism. The opening motif, very reminiscent of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, sets the thematic and dramatic tone for the rest of the work. Elegy is held together by dense counterpoint, with each part carefully woven between its neighbors, never giving one instrument dominance over another. This piece is dedicated to Jesse O’Neill, whose heroic arrival onto the scene saved this piece from development hell.
All of the material for this work is drawn from the opening four-note motif (A, B♭, D, C♯). This motif is passed around between every instrument, giving each performer a chance to be the dominant voice while others accompany them. The work is driven forward by presenting this motif in different keys and setting it into different time signatures. It is also inverted and used to form longer melodic lines.
Solo Piano Arrangement (Op. 6a)
As both a composer and pianist, I typically write for piano so I get the added fun of performing works myself. This piece, although short, is one of my favorites, but it just so happens that I don’t have a brass quintet in my pocket (eBay?). So, I made an arrangement for piano. Translating five-voice counterpoint into a solo piano work is difficult, so it took some adjusting to make it work. Some chords were far too large for two hands alone. Bringing out each voice individually is especially tricky, but it can be done with enough work. The result is a very sparse, intimate, but turbulent piece which works quite well in performance after a dazzling concert piece.