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This is a cracker of a test piece. Johan de Meij is an extremely intelligent and thoughtful composer of note, who has written many fine original compositions, symphonic transcriptions and arrangements of film scores and musicals. He has won a number of international prizes and is recognised both in his home country and abroad as a composer of distinction. The piece itself is about 16 and a half minutes long and basically falls into a number of clearly defined sections.
As the title suggests the work develops in almost chameleon like forms from the kernel of the first four notes of the opening stanza. The opening section is set as a simple quartet, played and marked semplice by two solo cornets, a horn and euphonium.
It is marked Andante Cantabile as befits the original and could easily win or lose the contest for any band if approached in the wrong manner. Quartet playing is something of a lost art, and playing with an intuitive sense of balance and with recognition of the main thematic line is the key. There then follows an extended build up when the sense of change is palpable entries are marked ppp, but sense of measured heart beat is audible.
Again and again little motifs and themes are heard and the detail in the writing is immense.
The percussion section will have its hands full from very nearly the word go up to five players or more may be needed at any one timeand the timpanist gets the chance to shine at figure meiij a metamorphosis of the original theme.
Here lightness returns, but with complex undercurrents in the horns and baritones. Some of the technical writing is frightening in its difficulty and no one is spared.
Again the volume throughout is high, so the key may well be to play it just below maximum as to create the effects that are written clearly into the score. Between and in particular there is some brilliant, almost mathematical technical work. It ends with a quote from Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony, before we come to what will be a section of writing that will surely be talked about for years to come. This is where the cornet and horn players take to the bottle to create a extteme effect which sounds like a small fairground organ in timbre.
Uohan does however go on a bit, and there is the makeoveg that it is used in a way to give the ragged lips of the players a bit of a rest before they are asked for more pain in the final section of the work.
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In fact this section takes close on three minutes to play, but the effect can be spectacularly beautiful. There is use of dynamic contrast as well as articulation nuance whilst the need for balance and tuning is paramount.
Underscoring this all is an extended Marimba solo which becomes more and more complex as it heads to its conclusion and is scor finally by the xylophone and the remaining brass players.
It is certainly something different, but something that really does work well. However, the metamorphosis quickens as we progress and the traditional fugue effect of added subjects becomes mixed.
2005 European Championships – Extreme Make-Over – Set Test Piece
The overall texture completely changes as individual lines become lost and reappear in different forms, times and settings, and complex rhythmic patterns emerge from what is seemingly musical chaos. It is a brilliant idea that comes startlingly to life. The build to the final section will tax bands to the full and contains a subtle key change or does it? Finally, at we come to final climax with a subtle little echo of the Overture underscored in the 3rd cornet and flugel and with the bells peeling.
It ends with discordance and a final metamorphosis to the last immense chord that closes a work ed rare brilliance. The middle section is a tad overlong and can be seen as an attempt to rest the players before the final onslaught. It is however makrover work makeoverr real beauty and elegance allied to some amazingly complex technical writing.
We think it is a fine eextreme. Congratulations are therefore warranted to the organisers and especially the composer for giving us another European test piece that deserves greater exposure than just this single weekend. Johan de Meij Born in Voorburg, studied trombone and conducting at the Royal Scors of Music at The Hague and has earned international fame as a composer and arranger. His catalogue consists of original wxtreme, symphonic transcriptions and arrangements of film scores and musicals.
Inthe orchestral version was premiered by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. His other larger compositions, such as Symphony no. Besides composing, Johan de Meij is also very active in various musical fields. He is much in demand as a guest conductor: Johan de Meij Johan de Meij Born in Voorburg, studied trombone and conducting at the Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague and has earned international fame as a composer and arranger.
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