ABC CLASSIC FM'S "CD OF THE WEEK" (20-25 AUGUST 2007)
This extraordinary disc really is a superb piece of musical archaeology. This ophicleide was a nineteenth century invention, which, like many eccentric instruments (serpent, glass harmonica, various sorts of piano) failed to capture the imagination of either music lovers or composers, and so fell into neglect. Berlioz was one of the few who used it. There's even a part for it in his famous Symphonie Fantastique. Trombonist Nick Byrne has unearthed a swathe of impressive music for the ophicleide (pronounced with a hard "C", by the way) and produced a unique recording. Its sound is more or less like a brass bassoon, and it veers between eerie and comical.