/ The 2005 ITG Conference Bangkok, Thailand

ITG Journal, Oktober 2005

The 2005 ITG Conference Bangkok, Thailand

If you were not able to attend the Brandt Brass concert on Wednesday night you will, no doubt, hear about what you missed from people who were fortunate enough to attend. Two words that come to mind are “unique” and “stunning.” This 14-piece ensemble showed their versatility, endurance (both mental and physical), personality, and most of all, their musicality, in a memorable performance that will be one of the highlights of the 2005 Conference. 

This concert was fun. It began with a clown (Petroushka) running onto the stage, and in retrospect, he was letting us in on just how fun this was going to be. It was just great fun to hear the playfulness of Stravinsky’s “Russian Dance” from Petroushka, the funky groove that was present in Stuckov’s Brass Suite #1 (Was that Tower of Power up there?), the dazzling artistry and playfulness of the xylophone soloist on Concert Variations for Xylophone and Brass Ensemble (“wow” is so inadequate in this instance, but it’s the best I can do), and most of all, considering the occasion, it was a joy to hear Koroban, Danilenko and Ivanychev (the arranger) play the three solo parts in the Tre-Mendez Polka. The fun continued in a world premiere that invited us to a Russian party where we had just a little too much Vodka. As the musicians swayed to the music, in an ever-obvious state of increasing impairment, we could all sense the food, conversation, and good cheer that went into its creation. It wasn’t just fun, this was quite clever as well! These musicians enjoy playing together, and it shows in everything that they do. 

This concert was profoundly eloquent. Blend and balance were exceptional. Two pieces that were paired on the program were quite moving. Salvation is Created by Pavel Chesnokov (arr. Ivanychev) and Jewish Rhapsody written for the group by Boris Pigovat required control, blend, balance, sensitivity, and most of all, a high level of musicality. It was in these pieces that you truly heard what fine musicians graced the stage. With no conductor, Brandt Brass played with perfect ensemble, and with exquisite attacks and releases. The Jewish Rhapsody featured an extended solo from the group’s leader and first trombonist Oleg Abramov, whose playing cannot adequately be put into words, except to say that it is all that brass music should be…heartfelt, powerful, soulful, and that it transcended the notes into the realm of the profound. This piece was a showcase for the artistry of the entire ensemble, and was deeply moving on many levels. 

Finally, this concert was awe-inspiring. Every once in a while you see something in life that just leaves you at a loss to explain it to anyone who was not there, and the last two pieces on the program fit into this category. Ivanychev’s arrangement of Voice of Asia: Ritual Procession by Adil Bestibaev was unlike anything I have ever seen or heard at a brass concert. We were suddenly transported to the mountains of Tibet through the cacophonous calls of the trombones. Oleg Abramov appeared on the stage wielding a long, straight natural instrument. If you closed your eyes, it was not a stretch to think that we might have been deep in the mountains preparing for battle! Extremely powerful sounds gave way to soft, subtle, sensitive playing at various points. How does this group scream at you one moment, and then caress you a moment later? The group closed with yet one more premiere, Tchastushka – Concert Piece for Brass Ensemble by Alexander Gilev. This piece served as a beautiful conclusion to the evening’s performance. Extremely well crafted, it gave all of us one more taste of the virtuosity, precision, and perfect ensemble that these musicians have achieved. With a standing ovation, the audience expressed its desire for more, but alas, this group had already said what it had to, and we’ll just have to hope that we will be fortunate to see these musicians again down the road of life. 

This was one of my most memorable moments ever at an ITG Conference. Many thanks to Joseph Bowman for helping the Brandt Brass travel from Saratov, Russia so that they could be with us here in Bangkok. 


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