ROUNDS AND DANCES for brass quintet
Program notes by the composer
Rounds and Dances was a joint commission by the four principal American brass organizations and was composed during the summer of 1980. It received its premieres in 1981 at both the National Trombone Workshop in Nashville, Tennessee (by the Eastman Brass Quintet) and the International Trumpet Guild convention in Boulder, Colorado (by the University of Wisconsin Brass Quintet). It is a suite of five short movements conceived primarily in terms of the ensemble rather than the individual parts.
The first and fourth movements are canonic in nature: in the Fanfare the instruments enter in score order, moving down from the movement's Trumpet I beginning; in Idyl the instruments enter in ascending order from the tuba's opening solo. These two movements contrast in spirit as well as form; the Fanfare is rhythmically exciting, assertive, and comes dangerously close to being trapped in its repetitions, while the Idyl is quiet and introspective, with a "long line" that builds steadily to a climactic outcome.
The remaining movements, homophonic in texture, are generic dance forms of Europe and South America. In the second movement, Sarabande, each instrument has the opportunity to display its soloistic technique against the unvarying, slow dance background of the remaining instruments. Carioca, the third movement, is a lively dance featuring an unusual opening texture with its own, built-in echo effect. The concluding "fast and fleet" Galop is the quickest movement of the set, poking gentle fun at Rossini among other composers of Allegro movements. This movement follows the Idyl without pause.