This installment of the Consonant Classical Challenge series presents French composer Maxime Aulio. Aulio is something of a specialist, as most of his compositions are for wind ensemble.
That's actually a good thing. Strip the winds and brass out of an orchestra, and you have have string ensemble -- a grouping for which many composers write. Do the reverse and strip out the strings, however, and you have a different story. The bulk of wind ensemble music is made up of transcriptions and arrangements. Relatively few composers write original works for the ensemble.
Aulio's talent lies in his deep understanding of the dynamics of the ensemble and how to get the most out of it. His works are mostly tonal in structure, although the rhythms and instrumental groupings make it clear this isn't music for marching band. Aulio writes substantial works that reward both the ensembles who invest time rehearsing them, and the audiences who hear them.
Les voyages de Gulliver, Op. 3 is a multi-movement work that provides a good introduction to Aulio's style. Listen especially to how he combines and recombines the various instruments to vary the timbre.
Aulio provides an additional service to musicians with his concerto for euphonium, "Libertalia" Op. 19. Not only is it a well-crafted work for wind ensemble, but it showcases an instrument that has few serious works written for it.
Aulio's music is very accessible, and not impossibly difficult to play. Aulio, I think, realizes that most of the ensembles that will perform his music are either student groups or amateur musicians. While composing in a straight-forward fashion, Aulio still manages to create engaging, complex works, such as his "Triton" for trumpet and wind orchestra, Op. 31.
Since Maxime Aulio writes mostly for a specific type of ensemble, it somewhat limits his potential audience. Ideally, wind ensembles would put on programs of original works and attract a larger following. But that's not likely. Aulio's made some important contributions to wind ensemble literature, and to the overall body of 20th and 21st Century compositions. Perhaps his time his work will be more widely appreciated.
Libertalia (French Contemporary Works for Euphonium)