John van Deursen
Taiwan Fantasia:
Brass quintet

Vancouver, BC, , Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 2015

Score and parts


This work, originally written for orchestra, was premiered in 1995 and revised for brass quintet in 1998. It is in the form of theme and variations, based on two Taiwanese melodies, ‘Moonlight Sorrow’ by Deng Yu-Shen and ‘Yi ya Quin’ (a lullaby) by Liu Chuan-Shen. The composer writes that ‘Chinese melody is combined with western harmony, including elements of jazz.’ The work is divided into seven short sections, including variations I–III. Each section is introduced by a change of key signature: C, F, E, G-flat, A, E-flat, and A respectively. Its style is somewhat unusual, drawing heavily on oriental influences, and it is certainly an interesting piece. I think it will be quite beautiful in performance.

The harmonic language is contemporary but many chords are simple major and minor triads, and except in the quite demanding cadenzas for trombone and first trumpet, there are few accidentals in any of the parts. The predominant meter is 4/4. The trombone cadenza includes multiphonics. Overall range for trombone is E-flat-b1, and its part is given in bass clef. Trumpet parts are provided in B-flat and C. Parts in the score are in B-flat. First trumpet tops out at b-flat2; second trumpet doubles on flugelhorn. Placement of a segno after measure 187, indicating a repeat of measures 105-126 before the coda at m.188 is a little confusing; and I am not sure why there should be an optional cut of a straightforward accelerando section from mm.178-185. If you are going to play this, bring a sharp red pencil. Dr. van Deursen is on faculty as low brass instructor at Douglas College in Coquitlam, British Columbia, and currently holds the position of Principal Guest Conductor of the Taipei Philharmonic Orchestra.

Reviewer: Keith Davies Jones
Review Published January 31, 2019