Septura brings together seven leading orchestral principal players in an exciting mission to redefine brass chamber music through the uniquely expressive sound of the brass septet.
“This is Septura's third disc for Naxos, and it was an especially exciting one for us to record. Whereas the preceding two outings had presented a steep stylistic learning curve, this Russian repertoire immediately felt like a natural fit. Brass plays such a significant role in the symphonic output of the featured composers, and the septet seems to bring their chamber works to life with an almost visceral power.
We believe that the musical range of the brass septet can rival even the most celebrated and established chamber music formations, and in this recording we decided to take on perhaps the most exalted of these: the string quartet. Shostakovich’s 8th String Quartet – as iconic and revered as it is – was our most ambitious (and slightly daunting) transcription to date. Brass ensembles rarely play pieces of such magnitude, and it made a huge musical impact on the players, which we can only hope comes through in this unique rendition.”
Simon Cox, founder and artistic director of Septura, trumpet
Matthew Knight, artistic director of Septura, trombone
Stretching back from the stark Soviet soundscape of Shostakovich, through the early modernism of Prokofiev to the pre-revolutionary opulence of Scriabin and Rachmaninov, Septura redresses a lack of original music for brass by these great composers by charting a turbulent seventy years of Russian history. Brass instruments feature prominently in these composers’ symphonic output, and Septura is a natural fit for their chamber music. The focus is piano music with one prominent exception: perhaps Septura’s most ambitious transcription to date, Shostakovich’s profound and deeply personal Eighth String Quartet. Volumes 1 and 2 are available on Naxos 8.573314 and 8.573386.
Listen to an extract from
Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 in C minor
(arr. S. Cox and M. Knight): II. Allegro molto
Watch a video trailer for
Scriabin's Prelude No. 1 (from Op. 13)
(arr. M. Knight)
About the Artists
Characterised by their “virtuoso playing: glossy, brilliantly articulated, audaciously coloured, technically flawless” (BBC Music Magazine), Septura is gaining a reputation for its innovative and imaginative programming. Currently Ensemble in Residence at London's Royal Academy of Music, the members of Septura hold principal positions in the London Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony, Basel Symphony and Aurora orchestras. By creating a canon of transcriptions, arrangements and new commissions for brass septet, a brand new classical configuration, Septura aims to re-cast the brass ensemble as a serious artistic medium.
What if four celebrated nineteenth-century composers—Mendelssohn, Schumann, Bruckner and Brahms—had written original works for brass septet? This disc explores that fascinating counterfactual twist, re-imagining choral and organ works by those composers. The arrangements call on the full dynamic and tonal range of the instruments—often extended with a multitude of mutes—to imitate the expressivity of the choir, the power of the organ, and the versatile sonorities of its different registrations and manuals. In dazzling and varied combinations the arrangers and performers together persuade us that this could indeed be original brass chamber music.
“…superbly played and warmly engineered debut disc of imaginatively conceived arrangements.”
– BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★
Watch an introductory video to the series,
presented by Simon Cox and Matthew Knight
This second volume of Septura’s brass chamber music series takes us back to the 17th century and the music of Baroque opera, in four contrasting works by Rameau, Blow, Purcell and Handel. The astounding variety in content, colour and character of the originals demands especially inventive arrangements, and these pieces are vividly brought to life by incorporating stylistic elements from ‘period performance’. The exhilarating result is a stunningly virtuosic set of new Baroque works for brass. Volume 1 is available on Naxos 8.573314.
“Musical sensibilities, tonal beauty, balance, intonation, technique... all struck me as faultless. Devoted brass music fans absolutely must not miss Septura’s spectacularly virtuosic playing!”
– Expedition Audio
Watch a video trailer for Rameau's Suite from Dardanus