From Flugelhorns to Sousaphones

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Monday, November 08, 2010

You have to love wind players. As a member of the string team myself, I must admit to some low-grade mocking of their obsession with reeds, swabbing and chapstick, but let's face it: when the turn of a phrase is mapped to the length of a breath, stunning things can happen.

Another lovely thing about wind and brass instruments is their relatively new provenance. Violins were perfected, what, four hundered years ago? Compare this to the supremely Victorian, virtually steampunk bassoon, a crazy baroque contraption with all the bells and whistles, buttons and leavers that would fit. There's something so fabulous about this piece of essentially technology being subject the the compositional whims of say Sofia Gubaidulina, then teased into beautiful music by an adept soloist. Really, it gives me chills!

This week on the show, we're focusing on some pretty hot air (ahem, all November long, you can check out WQXR's love for all things windy right here). We're poised to explore winds and brass with grand, soloistic, front-of-the-band style. By the end of the week, we'll all know our flugelhorn from our sousaphone from our E-flat clarinet. We'll hear extended techniques, exquisite lines and impossibly long phrases. I can't wait to share some of my favorite performances with you.

Has a wind player ever knocked your socks off? Do you have a favorite musical wind or brass moment?

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Comments [5]

I see your point Stephen! Pardon my grammar, I'll work on it. I'll admit that I've used that construction in an effort to prepare the listener to observe pertinent details; if I say "written in 1913, The Rite of Spring was conducted by Bernstein," I fear the title will blow past the ears of most listeners. Perhaps I'm better off saying "that was Igor Stravinsky's 1913 work The Rite of Spring!"

Nov. 12 2010 03:36 PM
Stephen Sparler from Fayetteville, AR

Nadia, I really like your show, but some bad grammar detracts from it. You often say things like, "Composed in 1991, we've been listening to...". That means we were composed in 1991. It's a "dangling modifier". If you care, check it out here:

Nov. 12 2010 02:59 PM
james rogers

Some woodwind trivia for your next dinner party: according to a bassoonist I dated many years ago, bassoonists tend to be the gadget freaks of the woodwind world. They're always up for trying new rollers or levers, whereas oboists, allegedly, tend to be much more conservative when it comes to pimping their horn.

Nov. 09 2010 12:50 PM

This Ingram Marshall piece is a stunner, even if it does give the sousaphone a rest. :-) I agree with James, this week's theme is outstanding, bring on the "steampunk bassoons." (Any moments of French horn will be especially appreciated by this former player of that brassy classy instrument.)

Nov. 08 2010 03:11 PM
james rogers from San Francisco

I have to admit I'm pleased with this choice in programming; Q2 has, thus far, tended to be rather string-heavy.

Nov. 08 2010 12:34 PM

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