"Boxwood & Brass's sound is nothing short of revelatory" Early Music Today
“button-bright performances caught in a sympathetic acoustic... performed with spirit and vigour” Gramophone
"beautifully prepared and executed... While this CD makes a valuable contribution to our wider understanding of an important aspect of the history of the clarinet, it also provides a very entertaining and rewarding listening experience for the general listener." Early Music Review
"Spectacular playing ... Throughout the concert the players made us forget that the challenges that playing such period instruments presented, allowing us to concentrate on the music and the remarkable range of colours of which the instruments are capable. We were able to not only hear some superb playing, but could also appreciate the sense of engagement and enjoyment that the performers clearly feel with this repertoire." Robert Hugill
"The repertoire of the various combinations of wind band are not as well known as they should be, which makes this recording a particularly valuable contribution to the world of music. The playing (from Emily Worthington & Fiona Mitchell, clarinet, Robert Percival, bassoon, Anneke Scott & Kate Goldsith, natural horn) is outstanding, both technically and musically." Andrew Benson-Wilson on our debut CD
"The five piece period woodwind and brass ensemble make a lovely sound, bringing this 18th/ early 19th Century music to life in a way that is entertaining and very accessible." Brian Hick, Lark Reviews on our debut CD
“an amazingly polished performance ... Individually and as an ensemble, the performers displayed an obvious enjoyment of the music and their collective enjoyment was infectious ... these period wind instruments are capable of a much wider range of dynamics and timbre, with far greater subtleties than their later counterparts”. Amanda Babington, Criticks
"Boxwood and Brass seeks to recreate this music that is rarely performed nowadays. The spoken introductions by Robert Percival (bassoon) hinted at their scholarly approach but, like the music, these talks were also lively and entertaining." Matthew McCormack, British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Reviving Lost Sounds
Since its formation in 2013, Boxwood & Brass has championed forgotten harmoniemusik and given a number of modern premieres*. Here's a snapshot of our repertoire for 4–9 players:
J. C. Bach Four Military Quintets
Beethoven Sextet Op. 81
Beethoven arr. anon: Grand Sonata Pathetique
Beethoven arr. Czerny: Septet Op. 20*
James Brooks 36 Pieces for Military Band*
Bernhard Henrik Crusell Concert-Trio (first recording on period instruments)
Christopher Eley 12 Pieces for Military Band*
J. N. Hummel Octet in Eb (new edition based on original performance parts)
Franz Krommer Partitas Op. 57, 69, 79
Johann Stamitz Three Quartets (world premiere recording)
Franz Tausch: 13 Pièces en Quatuor Op. 22* (world premiere recording)
Johann Triebensee: Partita in Eb
Mozart arr. Stumpf: Le Nozze di Figaro*
Mozart arr. Sartorius: La Clemenza di Tito*, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte*
Weber Adagio and Rondo
The ‘Art of Arrangement’ was central to the musical life of the Classical period. Composers, Kappellmeisters and musicians created thousands of arrangements of new and popular works, both for specific harmonie, and for widespread publication.
Boxwood & Brass bring this tradition into the 21st century by presenting new arrangements from our own, growing library, created by our bassoonist Robert Percival. This allows us to present large-scale Classical works in intimate situations, and further the understanding of the historical activity of harmoniemusik. All arrangements are for 2cl.2hn.2bsn unless otherwise stated.
Baermann 'Adagio' for Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (2cl.2hn.bsn)
Beethoven Symphony No. 3 'Eroica' (octet, trumpet and double bass)
Beethoven Piano Concerto Nos. 1 and 3 (piano and 6 winds)
Mozart Symphonies 39 and 40
Mozart Piano Concertos K. 271, K. 488, and K. 595 (piano and 6 winds)
Mozart Concerto for Two Pianos K. 365 (two pianos and 6 winds)
Mozart Requiem in D minor K. 626 (voices with 6 winds, double bass and organ)
Weber Horn Concertino
Founded in 2013, Boxwood & Brass brings together the emerging generation of British period wind-instrument players to advocate for neglected wind chamber music and harmoniemusik of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Members of the group work regularly with top orchestras from across Europe, including the Orchestra Revolutionnaire et Romantique, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Gabrieli, L’Orchestra de Champs-Elysees and Spira Mirabilis. In-depth scholarly research into style and repertoire is important to us, as is accessible and engaging presentation. Our first CD, Music for a Prussian Salon, was released on Resonus Classics in 2016 to unanimous critical praise. In 2017, our project 'The Harmonie in Beethoven's Vienna' won funding from Arts Council England and we are Making Music England selected artists for 2017–18.
Our repertoire ranges from the military band music of England, through the virtuosic Parisian salon repertoire, to the vast libraries of music created for the harmonie ensembles of the Central European nobility, as well as new arrangements created for the group in the best historical tradition.
Rachel Chaplin, Nicola Barbagli oboes
Emily Worthington, Fiona Mitchell, Oscar Arguelles clarinets
Anneke Scott, Kate Goldsmith, Ursula Monberg horns
Robert Percival, Takako Kunugi bassoons
Jacqueline Dossor double bass
Comments from participants of our annual course 'Harmoniemusik with Boxwood & Brass' at Benslow Music:
"This has been a wonderful course. Tutors were with us for full sessions and most helpful about the style and interpretation of the period. I have thoroughly enjoyed myself this weekend."
"The 3 tutors were excellent, kind, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, encouraging, friendly and very well prepared."
"Absolutely brilliant – a new course, very different and exciting."
Circles and Lines, November 2015
As we prepared for our recent concert for Music-at-Hill, we started musing about ensemble disposition. Normally, we follow the convention of standing in a horseshoe-shape, deep or shallow depending on the space and acoustic of the venue. But recently Robert our bassoonist discovered several references to bands playing in a closed circle, such as Wilhelm Wieprecht, who recalled that in 1804:
"When I heard [the band] play the Overture to Mozart's Figaro in a closed circle, there came into my heart the firm decision that I would dedicate myself from now on to military music'...
We thought we might try this for this concert, in the magnificent space of St-Mary-at-Hill, with the audience seating set out also in a circle surrounding us. When it came to the crunch, though, an event following our concert prohibited us changing the layout of the space. So instead, we tried something totally different: playing standing in a line.
The result was fascinating. Because we had no visual contact with each other, we found ourselves listening in a different and far more active way than normal. Where we might normally nominate one player to lead an entry, we instead had to be aware of each other's breath and led together. Ensemble was, if anything, better and easier, because we simply relied on the momentum of the music to time entries and silences. And best of all, because we were playing to the audience rather than to each other, the imperative to perform and sell our individual lines was all the more pressing.
There were some minor issues – it was difficult for the horns and second clarinet to hear each other from opposite ends of the line – but it's definitely an experiment we'll try again soon...
by Emily Worthington