- Vocalise, song for voice & piano, Op. 34/14
- March & Scherzo for piano, Op. 33 ter (arr. from The Love for Three Oranges, Op. 33)
- Prelude for piano in B minor, Op. 11/6
- Prelude for piano in E flat minor, Op. 16/4
- Prelude for piano in F sharp minor, Op. 31/2
- Prelude for piano in C major, Op. 31/4
- Prelude for piano in C major, Op. 35/3
The British brass septet Septura, who have occasionally been confused with the metal band Sepultura, diverge from the usual brass ensemble repertory and in fact seem to have the goal of expanding it. Their arrangements have focused heavily on keyboard music, and on this third volume in their Naxos label series all the music except for one piece, the arrangement of Shostakovich's "String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110," has a keyboard piece as its source. (The march from Prokofiev's "The Love for Three Oranges" is drawn on the composer's piano arrangement of that familiar piece, and it provides a delightful entr'acte between the weightier works at either end of the program.) One might reasonably ask why Scriabin's "Preludes" needed to be arranged for brass septet, yet the project works well more often than not. What happens in Septura's capable hands is that the music is reinterpreted in delightful ways. The most unexpected examples come in the Shostakovich (sample the "Largo" finale, track five), where the somber interiority is replaced by a consciousness of the work's classical roots and its elegant, carefully controlled polyphony. In a way, Septura's version is as distinctive a reinterpretation of the music as Rudolf Barshai's chamber orchestra arrangement of the work, taking it in the opposite direction from Barshai's hypersensitivity. Prokofiev's "Ten Pieces for Piano, Op. 12," are so classically constructed they're less of a stretch, even with the piano's greater distance from the brass instruments, but these too have a fresh feel. The program is well constructed, with Rachmaninov's "Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14," offering a lyrical interlude before the end. An offbeat item for collectors of brass music.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an exceptional disc. Starting with the playing: razor sharp articulation, lustrous tone production and flawless ensemble. Four key Russians are the subject of Septura’s third disc for Naxos. With the exception of the Shostakovich and the Rachmaninoff Vocalise (originally a wordless song), all of the works were conceived for the piano. In each case, the arrangements devised by Septura members and co-artistic directors, Simon Cox and Matthew Knight serve the music handsomely. The Shostakovich transcription, in particular, is highly successful in expanding upon the composer’s bleak and spare vision. The brief, yet harmonically adventurous preludes of iconoclast Scriabin are beautifully realized. While the ubiquitous Vocalise is indeed lovely, the Prokofiev wonderfully acrobatic and inventive, it is the excerpts drawn from Six Morceaux which constitute another high point of this collection. Rachmaninoff’s evocation of Russian folk and liturgical styles works exceedingly well with these forces. The disc concludes with a sparkling 5 minute rhapsody on the well-known Russian Orthodox chant, Slava. The engineering and production by Phil Rowlands and Jim Unwin are above reproach. The sound pickup is full bodied, cleanly delineated and natural. The liner notes by Matthew Knight are, as you might expect, brilliant.