Septura perform arrangements of works by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninov

'Their pawky humour transcribes very well indeed to brass, with grace notes and little glissandos appropriately pointed.'

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COMPOSERS: Alexander Scriabin,Dmitri Shostakovich,Sergei Rachmaninoff,Sergey Prokofiev
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Music for Brass Septet, Vol. 3
WORKS: Works by Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Scriabin and Shostakovich
PERFORMER: Septura
CATALOGUE NO: Naxos 8.573475

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The brass septet Septura, notable for its polished technique and ensemble, has previously recorded effective arrangements of choral and organ works by such composers as Mendelssohn, Bruckner and Brahms, and of various Baroque suites. Here, the ensemble moves into quite different territory, playing transcriptions of piano works by Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninov, and of Shostakovich’s Eighth String Quartet.

Of the arranged piano pieces, the most successful by far are those from Prokofiev’s Ten Pieces, Op. 12: their pawky humour transcribes very well indeed to brass, with grace notes and little glissandos appropriately pointed. The more subtle Scriabin and Rachmaninov works, though, are curiously transformed, the often patently wrong brass colours making one realise how much those pieces are defined by the piano’s sonority and character. Least successful is the Shostakovich transcription. There are some effective passages – such as the Allegretto third section in which the pinched sound of muted trumpets crawl in the background as a trombone ruminates; but too much of the original’s essential edge is glossed over, with high-keening solo violin lines transferred down an octave to fit the compass of a trumpeter. Even intimate passages such as within the following Largo sound heavy-handed and sententious.

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Daniel Jaffé