A new album release for 2020 from The Wallace Collection, featuring four magnificent Quintettes by Jean-François Bellon (1795-1869).
Bringing to life the works of this significant early composer for brass, the recordings have been performed on authentic brass instruments from the period and using authorised copies of the original scores held by the British Library.
This album was originally recorded on 28-29 June 1999 at St Paul’s Church in Rusthall, Kent, and now formally released in 2020.
- John Wallace (petit bugle à clefs en Mib)
- John Miller (cornet à pistons en Sib)
- Paul Gardham (cor à pistons en Fa)
- Simon Gunton (trombone)
- Anthony George (ophicléide en Ut)
During the 1990s The Wallace Collection, encouraged by John Webb (who lent the group the instruments) and Trevor Herbert (who had deep knowledge of the period), became more and more interested in performing nineteenth-century music on period brass. Our ‘The Origin of the Species’ CD recording, released in 1996, successfully captured some of the repertory written for the Cyfarthfa Band founded in 1838 in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, and is still available from us (on the Nimbus label – NI5470) some twenty-five years after its release.
At that time, there was very little known of chamber music for brass from the nineteenth century. However, following the move of the British Library from Bloomsbury to St Pancras, and the subsequent digitisation of its archives, Anthony George made a research visit to find ophicleide repertory. Upon searching for the word ‘ophicleide’ on their system, all the pieces included on this album were revealed in the results.
Quintets No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 were in part form, signed by the composer and published by the Parisian publishing house Richault. Quintet No. 12 was in a full score version from the later nineteenth century in London’s music periodical, the Orpheus Journal. This recording was made playing from copies of the original materials.
Jean-François Bellon (1795-1869) Bellon is now the earliest composer known to have written a substantial body of brass quintet chamber music. He wrote twelve brass quintets between 1848 and 1850 for the new chromatic brass instruments invented in the first half of the nineteenth century. A violinist, orchestra leader, and conductor as well as composer, he wrote these quintets for the principal players of the Opéra and the Concerts Musards in Paris. He was concertmaster of this latter organisation in the mid-nineteenth century.
The Concerts Musards were the brainchild of Philippe Musard. He invented the promenade concert, along with the notion of the celebrity showman conductor (his great rival was Louis-Antoine Jullien). He exported the concept to the rest of the world, including London, where the ‘Proms’ endure to this day, and to the US, where African-American keyed bugle player and musical entrepreneur Francis Johnson called his popular concerts, Concerts à la Musard.
Brass soloists like Johnson were one of the great attractions of these concerts, where novelty and sensation and huge forces were the order of the day. Sometimes as many as forty-eight violins, twenty-four cornets and twelve trombones were on display. Competition was intense – if Musard fired a pistol in one of his concerts, Jullien would respond with a canon in his next concert.
The Wallace Collection
- Quintette No. 1 in Eb major
- Andante cantabile
- Quintette No. 2 in Bb major
- Allegro risoluto
- Andante cantabile
- Allegro scherzando
- Quintette No. 3 in G minor
- Quintette No. 12 in F minor
- Adagio ma sostenuto