Annapolis Brass Quintet plays its last respects ANNAPOLIS/SOUTH COUNTY

April 28, 1993|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Contributing Writer

Twenty two years, thousands of concerts, 16 recordings, 75 world premieres and 17 European tours after its inception, the Annapolis Brass Quintet said farewell to its hometown audience Sunday evening with a final concert.

The quintet played before a packed house at Key Auditorium on the campus of St. John's College.

The success of such a concert might seem a foregone conclusion to some -- sentiment, adrenalin and all that -- but to a musician, the pressures are immense. If something should go wrong, where and how do you redeem yourself tomorrow?

But the Annapolis Brass Quintet needn't have worried, for its final concert evinced the same technical acumen and lofty musicianship that have characterized the group's music-making for the past two decades.

Any thoughts that this concert would be a mere saunter down memory lane were scotched immediately by first trumpet David Cran. "If you expected nostalgia alone," he told the audience, "then you don't know us well. We've put together a program that contains music we believe in."

The farewell fare, in sum, was vintage ABQ; a 400-year anthology of brass chamber music stretching from the Spanish Renaissance through today, with stops in 17th-century Germany, the late Baroque period, and turn-of-the-century Russia along the way. Even in saying goodbye, the ensemble premiered a brand new piece, the worthy "Symphony for Brass" by Michael Brown.

Review

In this final concert, three moments stood out for me.

One was the intimacy and affection with which the players expressed the spiky rhythms of "Invitation to the Sideshow," composed by Annapolis' own Douglas Allanbrook.

In Praetorius' glorious Dances from "Terpsichore," one had a sense of the quintet members paying final respects to themselves as they interacted in the many different instrumental combinations.

Their final selection, Elam Sprenkle's haunting evocation of Walt Whitman's poem "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" was performed off-stage, more a closing benediction on the house than an encore.

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