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Record Box


Brass in consort, with BASIL RAMSEY

Hyperion    CDA67119

Antique Brasses. Copyright (c) 2000 Hyperion Records Ltd.


My one problem in tackling performances with brass in any combination is a quick tiring of the ear. Despite all the expressive qualities of fine players this fundamental flaw in my auditory capacity remains obstinate. I therefore slowly picked my way through this CD's 24 track piecemeal, which - as it happens - I found much the best way of absorbing the music. For all its curiosity value, this array of brass instruments casts light and shade differently to other ensembles. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes the effect is brittle.

I have decided that Nicolai (composer of the Merry Wives of Windsor Overture, often heard when orchestral concerts opened with an overture) was shrewd in writing a delightful and resourceful Sonata for two horns - anything in two parts needs a balancing act. There's also an arrangement of the Adagio from Beethoven's Septet, which has returned me to the original, not in despair but rather in loyalty to Beethoven.

Bernhard Crusell- a trifle obscure in the history books but not unknown - is represented here with the first movement of a horn concerto, but especially for a group of resourceful pieces for the band of the Swedish First Lifeguard Regiment. They must surely have enjoyed playing this lilting piece [listen - track 25, 0:00-1:01].

The prize for a bright foot-tapping march must go to Prince Carl Friedrich von Lowenstein-Wertheim-Freudenburg, who suffered such an appendage from 1783 to 1849. Music was, I suppose, a light relief.

In all of this merrymaking, I cannot overlook the meticulous research into instruments and music that preludes such an undertaking. It is of great value, and the impulse to motivate splendid playing.



Copyright © 27 September 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews