Beethoven, Crusell, Lachner, Braun, Neukomm, Nicolai, Rossini, Salieri, etc

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Braun,Crusell,etc,Lachner,Neukomm,Nicolai,Rossini,Salieri
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Antique Brasses
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: London Gabrieli Brass Ensemble/Christopher Larkin
In the first few decades of the 19th century, brass players realised that the simple instruments that had seen them through so far were much in need of improvement. If they were to cope with the new demands, both technical and expressive, that composers were now making, they must achieve a complete chromatic range. Various mechanisms were devised, with the now familiar valve system coming out on top, but en route were the culs-de-sac of the keyed bugle, ophicleide, cornopean and even more eccentric contraptions. Christopher Larkin has spent several years researching the period for this recording, unearthing a splendidly varied repertoire. The result is a captivating snapshot of how brass music might have sounded, as the new systems jostled for position with each other and with the already established hand horns and natural trumpets. Their combined sound, especially in the larger ensemble, is like any good antique: full of character, gloriously grainy, slightly worn, but unique, and a fine tribute to the original craftsmen. The performances on these troublesome instruments are heroic, with virtuoso playing on the hand horn from Andrew Clark that belies the labours involved. An invaluable contribution to a neglected area of musical research and an hour’s fascinating listening. Christopher Mowat