Folke Rabe: Escalations for Brass Quintet /1988/

I composed Escalations in the summer of 1988 on a commission from the Swedish Brass Quintet. They premiered the piece in October the same year at a Nordic Brass Symposium in Helsinki, Finland. Later the Stockholm Chamber Brass recorded the piece on a BIS CD.

From 1982 and up till today virtuoso music for brass instrumentalists has been a genre within my production. What I have in mind are works such as Basta for trombone solo /1982/, Shazam for trumpet solo /1984/, All the lonely people... (concerto for trombone and chamber orchestra) /1990/, Nature, Herd and Relatives (concerto for French Horn and string orchestra) /1991/, Vuolle for French Horn solo /1991/, Tintomara for trumpet and trombone /1992/, Sardine Sarcophagus (concerto for trumpet and sinfonietta) /1995/, Jawbone Five for trombone and six percussionists /1996/ and L'assiuolo caprese (concerto grosso for brass quintet and symphony orchestra) /2002/.

When I was planning Escalations I wanted to write a virtuoso piece for an ensemble, a brass quintet. Virtuoso etudes...? The first idea that came into my mind was scales. Scale movements of various lengths that consequently do not come out even in the first run.

The scale concept also has a dynamic essence; escalation, intensification. Along with the development of the music the scales are expanding accordingly, from chromatic runs through scales with alternating minor and major seconds to whole-tone scales and......

Scales, the element of expansion and dynamics, is present on most levels, even in the calm, chord oriented sections. But where do all these stairs lead? To an end, back to the beginning or to nowhere? The music is ending in the same unprepared fashion as it started.

Folke Rabe, 1991, revised Jan. 2006.