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
CD INFORMATION - HYPERION CDA67119
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