Aram Khachaturian
Adagio from Spartacus:

Arranged by Angus Armstrong

11-part Brass Ensemble and Percussion: piccolo trumpet, 3 B-flat trumpets, 2 F horns, 2 tenor trombones, 1 bass trombone, euphonium, tuba, percussion-s.d., b.d., cym., tam, timp.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Publisher: Cherry Classics Music
Date of Publication: 1970 / 2020

Score and parts

Primary Genre: Brass Ensemble - 6+ brass (choir)

Now considered one of the standards of Russian ballet, Khachaturian was awarded the Lenin Prize in composition for this work in 1954. The following year, he rescored it into four orchestral suites. Ottowan trombonist, Angus Armstrong, has set this movement for large brass ensemble and percussion.

All parts are manageable; ranges accessible to a good, college-level player, and the trombone 1 part only goes up to a-flat1. Trumpets three and four require the most endurance with minimal rests. Cup mutes are indicated for trumpets and trombones; straight mutes for horns. Piccolo trumpet is called for at the top of the score and trumpet four doubles with flugelhorn. The five percussion parts are not difficult; these players could join at the dress rehearsal.

Appropriate choices have been made for instrument substitutions. There are transcribed harp arpeggios that pass between trombones two and three, as well as between other parts at various times. The bulk of the melodic work is carried by second trumpet, first horn, and euphonium. Obviously, listening to a recording of the original will help to understand the style (articulation) choices. Adagio implies that lyrical playing is required and ensemble blend will be the principal challenge.

This is excellent music, skillfully adapted for a capable brass ensemble. The musical rewards are well worth the time investment.

Reviewer: David Stern
Review Published June 24, 2023