• John McCabe
  • Rounds for Brass Quintet (1968)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Hallé Brass Consort

  • hn.2tpt.tbn.tba
  • 13 min

Programme Note

Allegro – Andante – Allegro moderato
- Lento ma movendo – Allegro moderato

Rounds was written in 1967 to a commission from the Hallé Brass Consort, and consists of an introduction and four main sections, played without a break. The introduction presents the two main ideas of the piece, a fanfare-like figure on the trumpets and a melodic/rhythmic motif on the horn and trombone – these form the basis of the whole work, virtually all its themes being derived from one or other. Thus, the overall shape of the work is a kind of rondo, in which in particular the fanfare-figure has a ritornello function – hence the title.

The first main section, Andante, contrasts a lyrical tuba solo with a chordal theme on the upper instruments. It is followed by a substantial Allegro moderato in which the virtuosic rhythmic changes and dislocations are the pre-dominant feature. The Lento ma movendo opens and closes contrapuntally – a central climax is built up with the aid of a stuttering figure initially introduced by a trumpet. A brief quiet reminiscence of the very opening of the work links this to the final section, an Allegro moderato with perhaps the greatest variety of motifs and textures in the work, including reminders of ideas heard earlier. It builds to a rumbustious, vigorous conclusion.

© 1989 John McCabe