Fanfare for Double Brass Sextet

It was great to hear trumpeter Jon Nelson and his cohorts in the Meridian Arts Ensemble play a 1993 brass quintet fanfare by Milton Babbitt at the American Music Center’s annual awards ceremony last month, as well as Babbitt’s much longer Counterparts (1992) at the benefit concert later that evening. But Babbitt’s ultimate brass behemoth is his 1987 Double Brass Sextet Fanfare for which Nelson has assembled a group of new brass music junkies in order to bring to life on the new CD Metalofonico!. Scored for 12 players (that magic combinatorial number) and clocking in at only 3 1/2 minutes, the Double Sextet combines breadth and concision. In fact, the two sextets even play the same music, only one plays it backwards. See if you can hear the point of rotation, which occurs about midway through the excerpt featured here. I’m not sure I can, but I’m not sure it ultimately matters, as just focusing on the smaller surface details can be equally rewarding listening.

—FJO