Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Brass for the holidays

Brass music is an important part of the Christmas season, so it's nice to see this Naxos album (due November 11, 2016) from the London-based Septura brass septet (4 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, bass trombone). Indeed, this is one of the best Christmas albums I've heard in years, with amazing arrangements and outstanding musicianship. Sure there are lots of old favourites, but they end up sounding new. Matthew Knight's arrangement of Harold Darke's great In the Bleak Midwinter, for example, is really special, as is his version of my favourite carol, Peter Warlock's Bethlehem Down. Less familiar pieces include the celebratory Canite Tuba of Palestrina, a couple of sombre pieces from Rachmaninov's All-Night Vigils, and a lovely arrangement by Simon Cox of Tchaikovsky's Crown of Roses. A very strong recommendation: wrap it up and put it under the tree.*

* but then open it right away and play it.

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