Test pieces with quiet endings

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by ted, Nov 19, 2003.


Do you have anything against quiet endings?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. ted

    ted Member

    Has this topic been discussed yet?

    I've heard people critising major works with quiet endings because they're not dramatic and hence doesn't sound like a conclusion.

    Off the top of my head I can think of Devil and the Deep Blue Sea and Tallis Variations. I love both of the pieces and cannot imagine that they'd be any better had they a dramatic loud ending.

    In Devil, 3 bars into rehersal marking 37, a truly magical moment in banding occurs when everyone (except flugel) breaths a sigh of relief in unison. (if you don't know what i am talking about, it's just before the 2 euphoniums start the 5/4 section of the piece)

    Incidently, my favourite note ever is also in Devil, it's the E in rehersal marking 43 of the 2nd euphonium part. (I hope there are other 2nd euphoniums on tmp who have played this piece, otherwise i will just sound like a looney) I don't know why I like it so much, it just sounds wrong but it's so right it's just great.

  2. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    Not at all!

    Its good in a contest to hear that roar of approval after a big ending but equally, intensity of a quiet controlled balanced ending has just as much appeal to me.

    Tallis Variations - Have you heard the live YBS euros performance???
    Devil DBS - Faireys 1993, hmmmmm....nice
    Resurgam - ISB and Dyke massed a few weeks ago was received with absolute silence which was as moving as any big ending response as I have ever heard.
    Volcano - Terrific piece, end seems to catch you out but is great

    Rothwell Temps
  3. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Sounds originally ended quietly but John Golland was persuaded that it should be loud. He later said that he regretted making the change.

    I do like the 're-wind' ending that the work has now, but can't help feeling that he was right in his regret.

  4. Heather

    Heather Member

    I quite like pieces with quiet endings.
    Thinking about it though I think i prefer to listen to them than play them.
    As a member of an audience you tend to get excited by a loud finish and the applause comes spontaneously whereas with a quiet ending it seems to stay there for longer and you have time to think back. Hope this makes sense!
    The performances I tend to remember are the ones with quiet endings. For example Scottish Co op at the Grand Shield playing Tallis Variations. It was fantastic!
  5. Tromgod

    Tromgod Member

    Quiet endings can have their drawbacks, though.

    In a recent concert that Lanner did we played Sunset Rhapsody which has very quiet ending. In the closing section, where all the band is down to ppp, a few of the audience started clapping in the slight pause before the final note.

    At least this did not happen at the finals in Dundee!
  6. johnflugel

    johnflugel Active Member

    Yes, I remember the number of Wick practice mutes helped them out tremendously ... :wink:

    Having said that, the other 12 minutes was splendid playing. We were in the Senior Cup that day but managed to catch Co-op and I remember how terrific Angela Whelan sounded on Flugel.

  7. shedophone

    shedophone Member

    A piece with a quiet ending can have as much, or even more dramatic effect than a loud one. Obviously loud music gets all our attention immediately, and can have such power and excitement.
    However, moving away from test pieces momentarily, have a listen to Mahler 6. An absolute marathon of a piece, with a quiet ending that has the most fantastic effect on any listner. The piece is so moving.
    I've played it in a few large venues, and the sound of up to 7 or 8 seconds of a silent hall/cathedral as the audience is so overcome by what they've just heard- is one of the best feelings ever!
  8. andyp

    andyp Active Member

    I think the art of playing quietly gets neglected quite a lot in contesting (and generally, too), particularly in lower sections where the perception is that to play something quiet puts you at a disadvantage compared to other bands playing 'louder' pieces. Personally I reckon playing quieter is much harder (but do the adjudicators see it that way?).
    Or, put another way, "Any fool can blow, it takes brains to play!" (Harry Bentham).
    I remember reading an interview with Philip Wilby a while ago, in which he said that one of the most difficult test for a band was an extended loud section, immediately followed by a sudden very quiet section, and he always tried to include such a passage in his test pieces.
  9. Naomi McFadyen

    Naomi McFadyen New Member

    The quieter the better! That's what test pieces are all about ;-)
  10. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    To add to the list, a lesser-known quiet-ending piece by Brenton Broadstock is the "Rhapsody on 'St. Aelred'" (Recorded by YBS on Essays 3). Although part of the Essays series it's not truly a SA piece (not published by them anyway); don't know if it's ever been used as a test-piece, but I can't see any good reason why it shouldn't be. I would recommend a listen if you don't know it.

  11. GJG

    GJG Well-Known Member

    Moving back to the question, however, I do think there is an issue with choosing a test-piece with a quiet ending. If it's a set piece it makes no difference, but I think there is a sense in which, if you have played well throughout, an adjudicator will often have pretty much made up his mind about your performance before you get to the end. Provided it isn't a disaster, he is unlikely to suddenly revise his assessment if the "big finish" is less than perfect.

    If on the other hand you have elected to play a test piece with a quiet ending, I suspect most adjudicators might be waiting to see if you can successfully negotiate the ending before making up their mind.

    I don't pretend to be an expert on how adjudicators think, and I don't like to try and second-guess, but I do think you put yourself under a little bit of extra pressure with a quiet ending.

  12. wewizrobbed

    wewizrobbed Member

    cheers for the nice comments (again!) heather!
    but john I think you'll find it was mostly silent brass ;)

  13. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Quiet endings.......must be Resurgam...excellent.
  14. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I'd have to disagree with you on the ending of this particular piece. Opening - nice. Fugue and surroundings - nice. Then it faffs around a bit, and drops into 'All Kinds of Everything'. For me, it's a big shame; it's as if he ran out of ideas, but still had to make the piece up to test-piece length.

  15. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Phewww thought u were talking about Resurgam there.
  16. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Gosh no... That's a very intense ending.
  17. Moy

    Moy Active Member

    Yeh I agree...never want to start applauding at the end...just want to sit quietly but usually someone starts too soon.....for me anyway.
  18. drummerboy

    drummerboy Member

    I think when used in the right context quiet endings can be very effective. It's been mentioned before, but Resurgam is the obvious example. I can't imagine the piece with a loud ending.
    Though it's not a test piece, Just As I Am by Heaton also comes to mind. The final chord (and stillness) at the end kind of puts what has gone before it into perspective.
  19. floral_dance

    floral_dance Member

    Resurgem with a loud ending would be awful, must be quiet shshshshshs!
  20. Railybobs

    Railybobs Member

    why does a test piece have to be all about blowing your backsides off?

    Resurgam has to stand out for me being ex SA.