Except for a 2016 Christmas release, the albums of the London brass septet Septura have been numbered, from Vol. 1 to Vol. 7 (with three more to come as of this writing). This suggests the group's aim: in place of the usual brass ensemble repertory of Renaissance pieces sprinkled with modern compositions, Septura is attempting to create a new repertory (a "counter-factual history," they say) of brass chamber music covering the entire range of classical music. "By creating a canon of transcriptions, arrangements, and new commissions...," say the members, "Septura aims to recast the brass ensemble as a serious artistic medium." Drawn from among the holders of principal chairs of the London Symphony, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Basel Symphony, and Aurora orchestras, Septura launched its series of recordings on the Naxos label in 2014 with an album devoted to Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, and Schumann. Subsequent releases have been devoted to 20th century Russian music, the English and French Baroque, the Renaissance, the French late Romantics, and more. Trumpeter Simon Cox, the group's founder, has done many of the arrangements, but other members have also contributed. That these arrangements are crafted by the group members for their own instruments is one factor contributing to the smoothness of the group's playing, noted by British media and fellow players like trumpeter Alison Balsom, who has asserted that "the standard is absolutely higher than brass playing has ever been before." Variety is also a hallmark of Septura's albums and performances, with solo melodies being equally distributed among the group, and a resultant mixture of timbre and texture. The Naxos series began during Septura's stint as Ensemble-in-Residence at London's Royal Academy of Music. After several major festival appearances, the group launched a concert series of its own during the 2017-2018 season, with appearances at St John's Smith Square, London, and West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge. It also made plans to tour the U.S., Germany, and Switzerland. ~ James Manheim
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