The USA Central Territory Music Department has released this fine collection of a dozen hymn arrangements scored for traditional brass quintet. The instrumentation provided with each set, which comes with a full score, is as follows: Part I – Bb trumpet I; Part II – Bb trumpet II (E Flat horn, F horn); Part III – F horn (E flat horn, Bb trombone treble clef, trombone bass clef; Part IV – trombone/euphonium BC Bb trombone/euphonium TC); Part V – tuba BC (E flat tuba TC, B flat tuba TC)
Drawn from the successful, flexible series ‘Hallelujah Choruses’, these arrangements rank among the best in that collection that now numbers over 280 song and hymn settings suitable for both accompanying congregational singing and as stand-alone pieces. The same is true for brass quintet usage – either for solo presentation or accompaniment. Eight are excellent settings by William Himes: All hail the Power (tune Coronation); Be thou my vision (Slane); Come, ye thankful people, come; fairest Lord Jesus; It is well with my soul; In Christ alone; Now thank we all our God; and Joyful, Joyful (with Len Ballantine). Himes has provided several mini-gems here, ranging from the lyrical and meditative in his setting of the old Irish tune Slane, Be thou my vision, to the majestic and uplifting variety, including his adaptation of Len Ballantine’s popular arrangement of the Beethoven tune, Joyful, Joyful. Himes is a master of this genre and groups will not go wrong in featuring these settings.
Three fine settings by Andrew Mackereth make up a further 25 per cent in the collection: Christ the Lord is risen today (tune - Easter Hymn); Crown Him with many crowns (Diademata); and Praise to the Lord, the Almighty (Lobe Den Herren). Finally, there is one joint effort by three writers (McBride, Wheeler and Thomas) in a fine adaptation of Holy, holy, holy (Nicaea).
In changing from the four-part band scoring in ‘Hallelujah Choruses’ (plus optional euphonium, rhythm section and even vocal parts), the arrangers have revoiced their pieces as necessary, the overall effect being very fine. Redesigned for chamber brass, not for brass band, the pieces contain reasonable ranges in all parts and moderate technical demands, though ‘Trumpet 1’ is called upon, from time-to-time, for somewhat more demanding descants, but not excessively so.
These 12 arrangements of well-known sacred hymns will prove to be very useful and effective for any competent brass quintet. May this set be just the first volume in a continuing series. Highly recommended!
by RONALD W. HOLZ, PhD, O.F.