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Music Of David Dzubay / Manhattan Brass

Release Date: 07/08/2008 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9230   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  David Dzubaydavid dzuby
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

DZUBAY Antiphonal Fanfare No. 2. Brass Quintet No. 1 . Acrostic Variations. Solus I. St. Vitus’ Dance Manhattan Br BRIDGE 9230 (53:34)

David Dzubay (b. 1964) is himself a trumpeter, so he brings a very personal fund of experience and wisdom to writing for brass. He currently teaches composition and directs the new-music ensemble at Indiana University, of which he’s an alumnus.

These works show great craft and Read more facility with the medium, which is too often a repository for works that strain to be cute. Brass quintets seem to be called on, all too often, to provide Christmas music and ragtime transcriptions, and audiences don’t seem to demand much more. Part of the reason may be it is one of the most sonically powerful classical ensembles, and listening to an entire concert of quintet music can wear one down from the sheer volume, especially if the ideas are chewier. But Dzubay counters this to large degree with a highly calibrated ear, whose taste for transparent texture and timbral variety keeps the resultant music sonically fresh as it unfolds. While fluent in his use of mutes, he doesn’t indulge in exotic colors for effect. Rather, the surface of the music is dappled and glittering, but also integrated.

The 1988 Quintet is a late student work, and shows an extremely precocious composer stretching his wings. Its general tone is that of abstracted dances, with an underlying jazziness. Solus I (1990) for solo horn, while expertly written, doesn’t engage me for its full 10 minutes. The Antiphonal Fanfare No. 2 (2006) is a perfect opener for any occasion. Its 40 seconds pack in a lot of information, and its lean and economical sound is Stravinskian.

The two remaining pieces are for me the winners. St. Vitus’ Dance (2003) is another suite of character pieces, based on the phenomenon of a mass hysteria “dance craze” from the Middle Ages. While it has some aesthetic similarities with the Quintet from 15 years earlier, it strikes me as more adventurous, confident, and personal. The 1998 Acrostic Variations is my favorite of the set. This is a series of 10 short pieces (yes variations, though the theme’s rather hidden), with the first letter of each movement title spelling the name Allan Dean (Dzubay’s trumpet teacher at Indiana). (Okay, there are 10 pieces but only nine letters in the name—the last movement is a Coda.) This is extremely compact, intense, wrought music, and a dazzling use of the ensemble.

Speaking of dazzling, the Manhattan Brass is off the chart, and the recorded sound is similarly spectacular. Of course, part of the reason for this is that the music is so well written, but this group still sounds as though they can do anything.

With these high positives, I also must add that while I admire Dzubay’s technical mastery, I’m not left with as high and individual an artistic profile as I might desire. The Acrostic Variations is where it all comes together for me, with the best of both style and substance. But as these pieces show, Dzubay is obviously deepening his expression and pushing his envelope. And he’s still young; in the era of Elliot Carter, he’s just a baby! Highly recommended to anyone interested in new brass music, both for imaginative composition and fabulous playing.

FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

Antiphonal Fanfare no 2 by David Dzubay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2006 
Quintet for Brass no 1 by david dzuby
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988 
Acrostic Variations by David Dzubay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Solus by David Dzubay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 
St. Vitus’ Dance by David Dzubay
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Manhattan Brass Quintet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003 

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