Back from Oblivion

Barney Zwartz
The Sunday Age (Australia)
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This fascinating detour into the historical byways of brass instruments presents the ophicleide, a sort of cross between a trombone and a tuba that was beloved of composers such as Berlioz in the 19th century. But this beautifully presented CD is much more than a curiosity: Nick Byrne, second trombone of the Sydney Symphony, is truly adept and gives a delightful program with pianist David Miller. Richard Bonynge says in the liner notes that the ophicleide approaches the human voice at its very best, with a wonderful plangent quality, and it certainly has an attractive, warm timbre. It was superceded in orchestras in the 20th century by the tuba and its reprieve is probably temporary - but very welcome.

Key track: Handel's O Ruddier than the Cherry: technically ferocious and musically delightful.