Work of the Week: #2 Extreme Make-over

Composer: Johan de Meij (born 1953)

Composed: 2004

Type of work: Single movement brass band work - subtitled Metamorphoses on a theme by Tchaikovsky.

My association with the work: Following its use as the European Brass Band Contest testpiece in 2005 I first performed this work with the RNCM Brass Band conducted by Dr Nicholas Childs. I was immediately a fan. It is based on extracts of Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No. 1 in D, Op.11, itself based on a Russian folksong. De Meij also uses a number of compositional effects that I had not heard before, such as creating a sustain pedal effect by having accompaniment instruments enter and hold a single pitch of the melody, or having the majority of the ensemble playing pitched bottles. It is my favorite piece in the brass band repertory, probably based on the thrill of performing the work. My favorite recording is the contest winning live performance by Black Dyke Band, made even more special by the rapturous response after the final note.

Favorite recording: Highlights from the European Brass Band Contest 2005, performed by Black Dyke Band, Various Artists

The clip: I can’t find a good video of a brass band version, so this performance is by a Spanish wind orchestra (the wind orchestration was made by de Meij in 2006).