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New releases for Brass Band and Orchestra

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Our two releases this month come from composers that represent two different generations of New Zealand music. The first release is Lambton Quay for brass band, by the esteemed Larry Pruden, a prominent figure of New Zealand classical composition in the 20th century. The second release is part of our University Edition and comes from Anthony Ritchie, one of New Zealand’s most internationally recognised composers. His epic Symphony No.2 is now finally available for purchase.

Initially composed for a brass band competition, Pruden’s Lambton Quay (1957) depicts the wharf of the bustling city of Wellington in the middle of the 20th century. Colourful ideas abound as this short, jaunty work evokes a snapshot of big city life in New Zealand that is almost unrecognizable 60 years later.

While Lambton Quay revels in the hustle and bustle of the outside world, Ritchie’s Symphony No.2 (1999) often looks inward to contemplate human nature and its potential to cause both terrible conflict and inspirational advancement. It is often these these extra-musical concepts that underpin the symphony’s structures, yet RItchie navigates his weighty allusions with a balanced hand, while demonstrating his gift for recasting small amounts of thematic material to create a highly compelling long-form narrative. Textures thicken and quickly dissipate, as if a dream, while elsewhere insistent quaver and semiquaver rhythms are organised into jagged patterns, with each section of the orchestra engaging in syncopated rhythmic interplay. Thunderous percussion and powerful brass evoke destructive warfare, which lifts away to reveal an optimism that celebrates the industriousness and progress of humanity’s best. Tightly twisting canonic lines, infused with metaphorical meaning, display Ritchie’s mastery of counterpoint. Ritchie’s symphonic meditation on the meaning and symbolism of the new millennium seems just as relevant at this moment in history.

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