Classical Reissue Reviews
“Bach and Before” – Works of PEZEL, BACH, PRAETORIOUS, GESUALDO, CORELLI, FUX, Etc. – New York Brass Quintet Vol. 1 (from LPs) – Mentor Music
Published on January 28, 2013
“Bach and Before” – Works of PEZEL, BACH, PRAETORIOUS,
GESUALDO, CORELLI, FUX, Etc. – New York Brass Quintet
Vol. 1 (from LPs) – Mentor Music Men-107, 55mins *****:
This well-established group, having its roots in 1945 when two members were at Juilliard, was together as this ensemble from 1954 to 1984. They were very active not only as performers but also in helping expand the brass quintet influence and literature via recordings and commissioned works.
This re-mastered recording by the New York Brass Quintet is the first volume in three set series. This first recording is presenting works of selected Renaissance and Baroque composers up to and including Bach. In addition to the Bach choral preludes and contrapunctus, there are dance suites, sonatas and two madrigals are included. While I recognise many of the composers I was interested to see that the NYBQ programmed some of the less standard composers; staying away from the more well known composers: Andrea or Giovanni Gabrielli or Scheidt, although Pezel, Corelli and Praetorious are major contributors to the literature. I was very happy to see Gesualdo on the recording, I always like when a Carlo Gesualdo piece is on. Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza (1561-1613) is most known musically for his madrigals; although his life and deeds are a story all on their own. His six books of madrigals, an Italian vocal style, while starting conservatively; develop to contain some of the most chromatic writing in music until Wagner’s music, almost two hundred years later.
The performance of the Quintet is top notch; the blend and the overall ensemble playing of the group is something that many young groups can use as an example to strive for as they develop their own sounds. Two things that I noticed on this recording were the sound of the recording itself and the ambient nature of the recoding spaces used. The sound of the recoding was noticeable to me because this recording was originally recorded on reel-to-reel tape; then digitized and mastered for this recording. This analog source material gives the sound of this recording a different “tint,” if you will, from today’s newer all-digital recordings. The performance spaces also provide their ambient sound and reverb; not a dry studio sound, but a live and booming live environment; perfect for brass. What is interesting about this is that the recordings were made in different places; from the studio, to the Manhattan School, to Yale University, dating from 1971 to 1984.