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Reginald Smith – Brindle : Grande Chaconne for guitar ensemble and two percussionists



Reginald Smith – Brindle

Doberman – Yppan: Score and separate parts (28, 8, 8, 9 and 11 pages respectively)

When I was first learning the classical guitar many decades ago, I used to come across this man’s pieces in our local music shop and tried a few, but then nothing for decades until this latest offering appeared on my doorstep .It is dated 1993 which is still a decade before he died, but this is apparently the first time it has been published. I would like to tell you more, but apart from the fact that it has been (in some way) edited by Steven Thachuk (and again I would have liked to have known what his involvement in the piece actually was, but that again is not explained) I can tell you nothing more of the history of the piece itself.

It is a substantial work (according to the composer 16mins 20 secs) where the guitar parts are spilt into three groups, but where the number of staves within each group varies from one to, at times, three, which is why the separate parts only come to four, one for each guitar group, and one for the two percussionists, who have to play Small congas, bongos, snare drum (sticks and brushes), cymbals, marimba and tom toms. The music has 3 different chaconnes marked when they first appear, but all of them are harmonically linked, and are chromatic in style, so that for much of the opening section the other guitars are playing, between them, chords of fourths that move up and down the fingerboard, until bar 38 when an inverted version of the chaconne arrives on the higher registers of the top two guitar groups, whilst the chaconne now is played in two different registers in canon form. One can see that the percussion here has a great deal to do, and adds much to the overall sound picture. After a considerable time, a recitative in free time then leads to a brief Lento section before the opening tempo reappears and everything builds to a considerable climax before the Finale, , led by the Marimba and the bongos, takes everything to a fortissimo close.

Smith – Brindle’s music is often not a very easy listen; his language is highly individual and not English at all in sound – world, but this is a new major work by one of the guitar’s most well-known composers that has languished unseen, and unplayed (I couldn’t find a performance of it anywhere on YouTube) for 28 years, and so there must be players who would jump at the chance to have a go at this most original piece.


Chris Dumigan



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