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One Composer, Two Pieces, Multiple Challenges

This week‘s choice are two fugues by Shostakovich that we’ve picked for their technical demands and multiple challenges. Both arranged by former group member, Brian Thomson, each piece provides the individual performers with an examination of many differing facets of brass technique and the ensemble as a whole with task of then putting it all together seemlessly. Weak links are exposed mercilessly.

First is Fugue No. 17 in A flat major and on first listen a seemingly innocuous sounding piece that flows along like a burbling brook in the countryside. However think about the key and then the fact playing in any flat key on a brass instrument requires a secure finger technique due to the use of the third valve with multiple moments of valve crossing. Semitone semiquaver passages will challenge the trombonist’s slide accuracy and fluency. Phrases that are just a little longer than one would like add in breath control to the list of demands. It’s in 5/4 so counting never seems straight forward and as earlier described this piece flows along, it can’t really stop apart from the odd musical meander at a cadence point.

Second is Fugue No. 15 in D flat major. Now this is a technical showpiece par excellence. It sounds hard because it is hard! It travels along like a speeding express train, there is no meandering here and nothing stops this relentless piece once set in motion. Constant changes of time signature, irregular phrases and the register demands, top to bottom. This would be a feather in any quintet’s cap to have in their repertoire.

Good luck!

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Bach C major Fugue featured on BBC R3

On Sunday 3rd January, the Onyx Brass recording of Bach’s C major fugue was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Featured on the Sunday Morning programme, Sarah Walker, the presenter commented on the “lovely, sonorous arrangement” and the “fresh, organic growth” of the performance, making it so suitable to herald in the New Year. Visit the BBC website to listen again.

The music as always is available in hard copy and download. Click the Shop Now button below to purchase.

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Extra 5% off Shostakovich Fugues

It will soon be 20th December and the end of the OBP sale will be upon us. So to mark this we thought that we would make all of the Shostakovich Fugues 30% off. Just add the code SHOST30 at the checkout to take advantage. What’s more you can still get 25% off everything else at the same time by adding the sale code 25OFF.

To give you an idea of what the amazing, melancholic, and epic fugues of Shostakovich sound like on brass, here’s a little teaser video with all ten that are available mashed into one 2:30 ad. The sound comes from our Chandos recording Fugue.

For those interested in the order:
1, G major
2, B minor
3, D major
4, A flat major
5, E minor
6, C major
7, G minor
8, G sharp minor
9, D flat major
10, D minor