The Christmas season may begin at different times for different people, but in Annapolis, its presence is officially acknowledged by the Annapolis Brass Quintet's annual holiday concert.
At these occasions, the beauty of music, the season and stately old St. Anne's comes together courtesy of these five talented players who bring the spiritof this time alive with the glorious sounds of brass.
The 1991 incarnation of this seasonal happening featured the diverse programming that makes ABQ concerts so much fun to attend. There were carols galore, Renaissance and Baroque Germanic chorales, some Spanish Christmas music and even a Hanukkah medley complete with "The Dreidel Song" and the Judaic version of "Rock of Ages."
Not only did "The Twelve Days of Christmas" become a fugual subject, but there was a little mariachi, a little big band, a little Klezmer and a syncopated "Jingle Bells" that would have most musicians stumbling through the snow in a desperate attempt to keep the sleighing rhythms on track.
Through it all, David Cran, Robert Suggs, Sharon Tiebert, Wayne Wells and Robert Posten played with personality, verve and
an unerring sense of good taste.
These are musicians who not only knowwhen to turn the brilliance level up a notch but also when to step back a bit and allow the eloquence of a German chorale prelude to speak for itself.
It is also striking how the ABQ is able to capture and communicate the extreme mood swings a diverse program like this one can create. When the crisp Handelian fanfares of the "Joy to the World" arrangement begin, there's not a hint of the jazzy, fat-toned "White Christmas" just concluded.
The changes are immediate and profound.
And what a great opportunity these concerts provide to appreciate unfamiliar music. Upon hearing glorious settings of the German "Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland," by Heingrich Isaac and Frederich Zachow or the terrific "Venid Ragales Vereis a un Dios," by Spaniard Alonso Xuares, one can't help but contemplate just how much extraordinarymusic remains unknown. The grating suspensions in Zachow's "Nun Komm" clearly show the hand of a master. Who was this guy?
Most Christmas programs present the gift of the familiar. How nice to receive a few musical treats so clearly out of the ordinary.
Note: A perusalof my WBJC 91.5 FM Program Guide indicates that this ABQ concert will be broadcast at 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.