CHRISTMAS WITH SEPTURA
Naxos 8573719 @ £7.50*
“Is it the warm glow of harmoniously blended brass instruments which link them particularly with the Christmas season? Probably, and if you a shot of brass to set the festive ambiance, this new anthology by Septura, an elite group drawing on the finest players in London, is just the tickets.
Three rousing numbers from Handel’s Messiah cap a recital so entertaining that the missing words don’t matter.” BBC Music Magazine
SCHÜTZ, H.: Das Wort ward Fleisch
BACH, J.S.: Christmas Suite
DARKE, H.: In the bleak midwinter
PRAETORIUS, M.: Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
BRAHMS, J.: Eleven Chorale Preludes, Op. 122: Es ist ein Ros entsprungen
TCHAIKOVSKY, P.I.: The Crown of Roses
LEONTOVYCH, M.: Carol of the Bells
WARLOCK, P.: Christmas Medley
PALESTRINA, G.P. da: Canite tuba
PARSONS, R.: Ave Maria
RACHMANINOV, S.: Vespers, Op. 37 (excerpts)
CORNELIUS, P.: The Three Kings
HANDEL, G.F.: Messiah, HWV 56 (excerpts)
GRUBER, F.X.: Stille Nacht
Brass instruments are almost a Christmas cliché: synonymous with the celebration, but perhaps not with the wealth of great music that it has inspired. Septura sets out to rectify this, re-imagining for brass septet the Christmas offerings of the greatest composers of the past 450 years. Pushing the combinations and colours of the septet to the limits, the result is a virtuosic and varied selection of festive favourites.
Septura has been admired in their recordings for “noble performances” (Gramophone on volume 1, 8573314), their “stunningly virtuosic set of new Baroque works for brass” (volume 2, 8573386), “deliciously witty… full of contrast… poetic” (The Guardian on volume 3, 8573475), and “an overwhelming sense of sincerity present in both the skilfully crafted new arrangements… and the execution of performance” (Brass Band World on volume 4, 8573526).
These arrangements give even the most ubiquitously familiar tunes a timeless quality – with something like Franz Xaver Gruber’s famous Stille Nacht emerging as a subtle exploration of changing sonorities using mutes and various settings between the verses.
Septura brings together London’s leading players to redefine brass chamber music through the uniquely expressive sound of the brass septet. Currently Ensemble in Residence at the Royal Academy of Music in London, the group is recording a series of discs for Naxos Records, each focused on a particular period, genre and set of composers, creating a ‘counter-factual history’ of brass chamber music. Weaving this ever-increasing repertoire into captivating live events, Septura is gaining a reputation for engaging audiences with innovative and imaginative programming, built around strong concepts and themes.
Naxos 8573719 @ £7.50*