From Flugelhorns to Sousaphones

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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?