About this Recording
8.572244 - Brass Quintets (Arrangements) - BERNSTEIN, L. / BARBER, S. / WILLIAMS, J. / GOLDSMITH, J. / ARNOLD, D. (Moviebrass) (Gomalan Brass Quintet)

West Side Story Suite • Adagio • Space Brass


The musical West Side Story, with the book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, is based on William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Set on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the musical explores the rivalry between two teenage gangs of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The young protagonist, Anton (“Tony”), who belongs to the native Manhattan gang, falls in love with Maria, the sister of the leader of the rival Puerto Rican gang. The dark theme, sophisticated music, extended dance scenes, and focus on social problems marked a turning-point in American musical theatre. Bernstein’s score for the musical has become extremely popular; it includes Something’s comin’, Maria, America, Somewhere, Tonight, Jet Song, I feel pretty and One hand, one heart. The original 1957 Broadway production, directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins and produced by Robert E. Griffith and Harold Prince, marked Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway début. The show enjoyed an even longer-running London production, a number of revivals and international success, and spawned an innovative, award-winning 1961 film.

This arrangement was based on the orchestral version of the Symphonic Dances with interpolations from the vocal score (voice and piano) of the musical, then rearranged for brass quintet. The important rôle of the percussion in the original version is mirrored in this brass arrangement.

Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings was originally the second movement of his String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11, composed in 1936. In the original it follows a violently contrasting first movement, and is succeeded by a brief reprise of this music. In January 1938 Barber sent the piece to Arturo Toscanini, but to his annoyance the conductor returned the score without comment. Subsequently Toscanini sent word through a friend that he was planning to perform the piece and had returned it simply because he had already memorized it. It was said that Toscanini did not look at the music again until the day before the première in a broadcast with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on 5th November 1938. The Adagio was used in the soundtrack of 1980 David Lynch film, The Elephant Man and in Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

The arrangement on this recording is by Stephen McNeff, with some slight adjustments made by Gomalan Brass. The aim was to recreate the endless sound-flow of the original version for strings. The piece has the widest dynamic range of all the works on this recording.

Space Brass is a homage to the most famous spacemovie soundtracks and their writers. Soundtracks for Superman, E.T., Star Trek (the movies and the series), Independence Day, Apollo 13, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind were written by John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, David Arnold and James Horner. The most difficult feature of the piece is allowing the brass ensemble to play like a whole symphony orchestra, using the original scoring, but without any help from the percussion.

The four episodes of Indiana Jones were produced by George Lucas between 1981 and 2008, directed by Steven Spielberg, with Harrison Ford as the main character and with the wonderful soundtracks written by John Williams. Dr Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones Jr. is a fictional adventurer, soldier, professor of archaeology, and the protagonist of the Indiana Jones franchise. The character first appeared in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, to be followed by Temple of Doom in 1984, The Last Crusade in 1989, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008. As well as film and television appearances, the character has been featured in novels, comics, video games, and other media. Jones is also featured in the theme-park attraction Indiana Jones Adventure, found in similar forms at Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. The main theme is played as in the original version by the solo trumpet, accompanied by the rest of the group. The atmosphere of the pieces changes dramatically with the entrance of the love theme, tender at the beginning and then with deep passion. The main theme comes back at the end to close this march-like piece.

The Simpsons, the longest-running cartoon on American prime-time network television, chronicles the animated adventures of Homer Simpson and his family. Starting on the FOX network in 1989, the series has been critically acclaimed. The Simpsons is the creation of Matt Groening, a comic strip writer/artist who until the début of the programme was mostly known for his syndicated newspaper strip Life in Hell.

The soundtrack was written in 1989 by Danny Elfman in no more than two days. This brass quintet arrangement recreates the pizzicato and glissando effects of strings and harp of the original version.

Lupin III began as a parody of a series of stories by the French author Maurice LeBlanc, creator of the original Arsène Lupin. This led to legal problems, as Monkey Punch did not seek permission from the estate of LeBlanc for using the name Lupin. The estate decided not to seek legal action against Monkey Punch, on condition that the use of Lupin was to remain in Japan. To deal with this legal issue various Lupin III titles were released under different names. Streamline Pictures had Lupin renamed Wolf. AnimEigo released two films as Rupan III. In France Lupin was known as Edgard de la Cambriole. In the early 1990s the Lupin name went into public domain, thus allowing its use on the animé franchise outside Japan.

The brass quintet arrangement is based on two different versions of the original soundtrack. The first one, in waltz form, is as recorded by the well-known Italian dance orchestra Castellina-Pasi, the second one was written by Yuji Ohno.

Marco Pierobon

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