Great Wall of China
Opening Day ODR 7433
Having listened to recordings of the Canadian Brass for many years, I was sure that this CD would be in the same style as previous recordings. Not so. While it has all of the performance polish that is the hallmark of this group, there is a big difference. None of the music is familiar. All 18 tracks are adaptations of Chinese music. First time through I simply sat back and listened from beginning to end. In a few words: It is delightfully listenable.
Since there are no program notes, I was at a bit of a loss as to where to start to obtain information on the selections. Taking the bull by the horns, I called both Howard Cable (who wrote nine of the eighteen adaptations) and Chuck Daellenbach, the founder and tubist of the group. The selections are called “adaptations” because the original material was received as recordings on original Chinese instruments which were then adapted for performance in the brass quintet.
As Daellenbach pointed out, just as the day-to-day life in China has evolved due to Western influence, so has Chinese music. From soft melodies like The Moon Represents My Heart which features the trombone in a jazz style and a very melodic tuba passage to Catching Butterflies While Picking Tea with its definite Chinese flavour and amazing ending, or the lullaby-like sensitivity of Colourful Clouds Chasing the Moon, it’s a new musical experience. In particular, Daellenbach’s sensitive melodic tuba is a joy rarely heard. This CD should be added to the listening material for the classes of instrumental music teachers to show students the range of subtleties and colours achievable with brass instruments in the right hands.