The Breathtaking Collective: On the Breath of Angels

The Breathtaking Collective, dir. Bruce Dickey. On the Breath of Angels. Passacaille PAS 1091, €17.00

Recorded February 2020, available at


On the Breath of Angels is the second release from Bruce Dickey, Hana Blažiková, and the Breathtaking Collective dedicated to exploring the natural and much sought-after affinity between the cornett and the human voice. Anyone who has heard the first disc will know that Dickey and Blažiková’s combined vocality and musicianship achieves this to a remarkable degree, and this second provides further opportunity for intriguing and inventive programming that showcases this partnership.

His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts: In Chains of Gold and Hieronymus Praetorius

chains of goldFretwork, His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts, and Magdalena Consort, dir. William Hunt. In Chains of Gold: The English Pre-Restoration Verse Anthem Vol. 1. Orlando Gibbons—Complete Consort Anthems. Recorded November 17-19, 2016. Signum Classics SIGCD511, Signum Records, 2017.

I have long thought that the best ensemble players are those who are able to intuitively emulate the properties of the instruments around them, no matter how unlike. The first few notes of In Chains of Gold, a sparkling compilation of anthems by Orlando Gibbons performed by Fretwork, the Magdalena Consort, and His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts under the artistic direction of William Hunt, transported me to that time and place where instruments and voices have arrived at a perfect fusion of affect and color while yet retaining each of their distinct qualities.

Concerto Palatino: Nature’s Secret Whispering

Concerto Palatino, dir. Bruce Dickey. Nature’s Secret Whispering: Music in the Cosmolo­gy of Johannes Kepler (1571–1630). Passacaille PAS 1073, recorded November 2019.

In the more than thirty years since it was founded by Bruce Dickey and Charles Toet, Concerto Palatino has become, I think it’s fair to say, the gold standard of early-mod­ern brass ensembles—both for the uniformly superb level of their playing and for the interest­ing projects they have taken on. Here is perhaps their most interesting pro­ject yet: a pro­gram of music revolving (no pun intended, sort of) around the thought of the great astro­no­mer Johannes Kepler.

Univ. of Kentucky Baroque Trumpets: Hyde's Preceptor (1799)

University of Kentucky Baroque Trumpet Ensemble. A New and Compleat Preceptor for the Trumpet and Bugle Horn by J. Hyde (1799). dir. Jason Dovel. Sontius Records SR 004, recorded Summer 2020. Available on iTunes

Friedrich Anzenberger (HBSJ 1993) noted in the first of his series of articles on trumpet methods that this is the first English method book for trumpet and bugle to be published. Jason Dovel and the fine trumpeters of the University of Kentucky Baroque Trum­pet Ensemble have done the brass community a great service by recording all the music from this important fifty-page method. There is some question as to whether Hyde’s first name was John or James. The title page of the method says the music was composed and compiled by J. Hyde and lists his affiliation as “of the Opera House and Trumpet Major to the Gentlemen of the London & Westminster Light Horse Volunteers. Of course, today Hyde is most remembered for the invention of the English slide trumpet. The title page also  indicates that the Cavalry Duty and Signals are “approved of and ordered by his Royal Highness the Duke of York, Com­mander in Chief.”

Review of High Bridge Brass (2019)

High Bridge Brass Album

High Bridge Brass, High Bridge Brass (Summit Records, 2019). For further information, click here.

This new recording of two brass quintets (Op. 5 and Op. 11) by Russian composer Victor Ewald and a brass sextet (Op. 30) by German composer Oskar Böhme shows off the advantages of playing these early works on their intended instruments.

Musica Fiorita, Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium

bachweinachtMusica Fiorita, Weihnachtsoratorium [Bach], Pan Classics (PC 10393), 2017.

Under the direction of Daniela Dolci, Musica Fiorita promotes historically informed performance practices for repertoire from the late Renaissance and Baroque eras. Performing on period instruments, the ensemble’s members seek to recreate the sounds and emotions of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Weihnachtsoratorium (Christmas Oratorio) on a brilliant new two-disc recording.

Ensemble Eolus, Georg Philipp Telemann per Tromba & Corno da Caccia

outheretelemannEnsemble Eolus, Georg Philipp Telemann per Tromba & Corno da Caccia (Outhere Music RIC 397), 2018.

In its first recording, Ensemble Eolus has released a disc celebrating repertoire by Georg Philipp Telemann and his contemporaries, and specifically music that features trumpet and horn. Eolus was the god of the winds, and this ensemble features specialists on historical wind instruments. In the liner notes, the group emphasizes its desire to accurately recreate the sound of Baroque music on historical instruments, which this ensemble specifically seeks to do by not using vent holes or hand stopping. The ensemble explains that they also wish to recreate “all of the original flavour of the music’s regimental and military origins.”

English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble: Music for Windy Instruments

ecse windyThe English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble, Music for Windy Instruments: Sound From the Court of James I, Resonus Classics (RES10225), 2018.  Ensemble website, cick herePurchasing/download information, click here.

Gawain Glenton; soprano & mute cornets, Conor Hastings; soprano, alto, tenor & mute cornets, Andrea Inghisiano; soprano & mute cornets, Nicholas Perry; tenor cornett, Emily White; tenor sackbut, Tom Lees; tenor sackbut, Catherine Motuz; tenor sackbut, Adrian France; tenor & bass sackbut, Silas Wollston; harpsichord & organ. Recorded at A= 465hz.

This recording marks the 25th anniversary of this fine ensemble and is a wonderful marriage of performance and scholarship. All the repertoire on this CD comes from the so-called “Fitzwilliam Wind Manuscript” an important source housed in the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge (Mu. MS 734).