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Concert Reviews 2018 - 19
           / Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch /Septura Brass
Sunday 14th October 2018   7.30pm

Trio Shaham Erez Wallfisch

Hagai Shaham  violin,
Arnon Erez  piano,

Raphael Wallfisch  cello

Schubert:  Nocturne in E flat major  op. 148
Trio in G major op. 1 no.2
:  Trio no.3 in F minor op. 65


Review coming shortly

Sunday 23rd September 2018   7.30pm

Septura Brass Septet

Huw Morgan, Alan Thomas, James Fountain   trumpets
Matthew Gee, Matthew Knight, Dan West    trombones
Sasha Coushk-Jalali   tuba

Bridging La Manche – England and France in harmony

Robert Parsons:  Ave Maria   
Josquin des Prez:  Ave Maria a 6  (i.e. for 6 players)   
Henry Purcell:  The Married Beau   
Jean-Philippe Rameau:  Suite from Dardanus                                           
Hubert Parry:  Songs of Farewell                      
Claude Debussy:  Préludes                               
Maurice Ravel:  Trois Chansons                    
Ralph Vaughan Williams:  The Turtle Dove


A large and appreciative audience at Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake was treated to a magnificent concert last Sunday by Septura Brass. Comprising seven of the UK’s finest trumpet, trombone and tuba players; among them principals of the BBC Symphony, the Philharmonia and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras; this opening concert for Keswick Music Society’s 2018-19 season was music-making of the very highest quality. 

Septura’s “counter-factual” mission is to re-imagine the brass septet’s existence for the past 400 years and the music that might have been written for it. By arranging great composers’ works and playing with great style and musicality they aim to put the brass septet firmly on the musical map. Judging by last week’s concert they are well on course.

The concert contrasted English and French music over the centuries and opened with two versions of the Ave Maria by the 16th century composers Parsons and Josquin, starting with the sonorous chorales of the Parsons version.

The collective precision of Septura’s playing, and the beautiful tonal and dynamic balance between the players meant you could hear each of the 7 instruments’ lines perfectly, within a cohesive sound that at times almost resembled a cathedral organ. This was chamber music playing out of the top-drawer, but with a sound to fill the biggest of halls. In the second version of the Ave Maria, the Eb trumpet soared above Josquin’s intricate interplay of ancient melodies; producing harmonies that at times sounded quite modern.

This was followed by two suites of dances by Purcell and Rameau, interspersing slow courtly minuets and lyrical airs with lively hornpipes and gigues in canon form. These movements allowed the musicians to demonstrate their virtuosic technical skills: the trumpets and trombones bouncing phrases off each other to great effect in the Purcell; brilliant descending scales played in perfect unison in the Rameau; and some lovely mellow echo effects from the tuba and trombones balanced with exceptional tone production from trumpets playing high up the register.

The second half juxtaposed one of Parry’s Songs of Farewell with arrangements of piano pieces by Debussy. The reworking of Parry’s very English pastoral respected Parry’s own skills as an orchestrator, and the group’s beautifully articulated sonority conveyed a real sense of longing and melancholy. By contrast the Debussy offered a variety of timbres and colours, especially in the movement where the trumpets used a different mute almost every other phrase. This was very imaginative arranging, sparkling playing, and yet still very convincing Debussy.  

The programme closed with versions of Ravel’s Trois Chansons; three jolly folk-songs, and Vaughan Williams’ The Turtle Dove. Originally written for baritone and chorus, this arrangement featured a superbly played euphonium solo.

Septura’s music does sound like pieces originally written for brass. The arrangers’ respect for and stylistic interpretation of the original scores, and above all the precision and musicality of playing by Septura’s members, produces great music which the original composers would surely have recognised as their own.

Review by Mike Richardson                                                                                                                                              

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