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ANNAPOLIS BRASS TACTICS

There are two types of brass quintets, according to trumpeter David Cran: One group is descended from the ground-breaking New York and American Brass Quintets, founded in the ‘50s. The other, apparently, is descended from the Marx Brothers.

“I certainly don’t want to disparage the Canadian Brass and all their imitators,” Cran noted. “They’ve added an element of show business into their concerts. It’s their way of taking a certain bend toward making this music a more popular idiom.”

Cran, however, includes his Annapolis Brass Quintet, which appears in concert at the 82-year-old Riverside Courthouse next Sunday, among the more serious and tradition-oriented ensembles. “Like the New York and American quintets, we treat our music as chamber music,” he said.

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While politely avoiding any negative words about all those show-biz quintets, Cran suggested that a certain public confusion has resulted from the peculiar combination of onstage clowning and heavy emphasis on flashy transcriptions that typify a Canadian Brass concert.

“Everyone knows what a piano is,” he said. “We can compare a Rubinstein with a Horowitz. But how can anyone compare the Canadians and us?” The problem, he pointed out, is that many people don’t realize that a pair of trumpets and trombones plus horn can be a voice for what Cran describes as “real brass music”: from early works by members of the Cabezon and Gabrieli families to more recent compositions by Ingolf Dahl and Wilke Renwick.

Those composers and numerous others will be represented on a Chamber Music in Historic Sites program titled “Ages of Splendour.” Noted Cran: “We were going to call it ‘Age of Splendour’ (referring to the 16th Century of the Gabrielis and Cabezons). But the Dahl piece (“Music for Brass Instruments” 1944) is so important--it’s one of the pinnacles of the repertory--we had to include it. So we changed the title to the plural.”

The quintet was founded 15 years ago by Cran and bass trombonist Robert Posten during their days in the Naval Academy Band. “Actually, no one in the group is from Annapolis,” Cran pointed out. “We got together in New York, but decided to settle in Annapolis. I knew the area, and it’s a nice place to live. In fact, we recently did a bossa-nova-flavored album with another resident of the city, Charlie Byrd (the veteran jazz guitarist).”

So, the Annapolis is a serious chamber-music ensemble, huh? “Well,” Cran allowed, “You can’t be too serious in our medium. If you get too high-brow, you’re doing the music a disservice. We have to remember that most of the early stuff we play was simply light dance music.”

THE BAR AND THE BARRE: Late last month, nearly one year after Los Angeles Ballet ceased to exist, dancer Karel Shimoff won a judgment here against the company for what she described as a breach of contract in 1980. “They said I resigned. I said I was fired,” Shimoff, now 39, explained. “Suddenly, they wouldn’t allow me to dance, and they wouldn’t pay up my contract.

“John (Clifford, artistic director of the company) said I made an oral resignation, when all I did was ask for my money (i.e. salary),” she stated. In settling the suit, Shimoff said she received some financial restitution, plus a formal letter of apology from former L.A. Ballet chairman of the board Martin L. Rayner, to help erase any damage to her reputation. “Everywhere I went, people were always asking, ‘So what happened with that lawsuit?’ It’s been tough to get work because of it.”

Reached at his office in New York, Rayner said he had no qualms about writing the letter, though, he noted, “I never knew (Shimoff) and only saw her dance once. The hiring and firing was the responsibility of the artistic director (Clifford).” Rayner theorized he was named in the suit because he was “someone who would have the (monetary) resources that could be touched.” He refused to discuss the financial settlement. The jury decided that Clifford and business manager Thomas Ozanich--also named in the suit--were not liable.

Shimoff felt “vindicated” after seeing Rayner’s letter, which expressed regret “if Miss Shimoff has been damaged professionally or suffered the emotional stress of prosecuting a lawsuit. . . . “

Clifford could not be reached for comment.

AT THE PHILHARMONIC: Some unusual repertory this week. Soprano Jessye Norman (see Elizabeth Venant interview on Page 50) will make her first local orchestra appearance in 10 years as soloist, with Herbert Blomstedt on the podium, in “La Mort de Cleopatre,” Berlioz’s dramatic cantata (did he ever write anything un dramatic?).

Also on the agenda at the Thursday, Friday and next Sunday events is the West Coast premiere of Charles Wuorinen’s “Movers and Shakers,” written for the Cleveland Orchestra in 1985. Wuorinen currently serves as composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Symphony, which will play the work later this month.

Brahms’ Symphony No. 3 completes the program.

PEOPLE: Henri Temianka has been invited to serve on the jury at the first Peking International Youth Violin Competition in September. Temianka, who has traveled to Hong Kong but never inside China, theorized that jury chairman Yehudi Menuhin recommended him to the Chinese.

Speaking of China, Kenneth Schermerhorn and his Hong Kong Philharmonic have been invited to tour the People’s Republic for 10 days next month. The American conductor (who also serves as music director of the Nashville Symphony) will be joined on the tour by violinist Stephanie Chase and Chinese pianist Li Jian.


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