Melba Recordings

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Back from Oblivion: Coming soon

Thursday, 15 February 2007 - 9:24am

Melba has collaborated with virtuoso wind player Nick Byrne to bring the sounds of the ophicleide to twenty-first century music lovers.

Berlioz and Meyerbeer in France, and Mendelssohn and Wagner in Germany wrote for it but these days no one plays it. Well, almost no one.

Melba is collaborating with virtuoso wind player Nick Byrne to bring the sounds of the ophicleide to twenty-first century music lovers

The ophicleide was invented by the Parisian instrument maker Jean Baptiste Halari in 1817 and patented in 1820, and is truly a child of France. The precursor of both the tuba and the saxophone, and sharing characteristics of both it was also overwhelmed by these later instruments.

Nick believes that there is something special about the ophicleide that is worth preserving. He discovered the instrument when an injury prevented him from performing on his chosen instrument, the trombone.

He says:
My own introduction to the instrument came as a student fingering through scores and wondering what is this instrument that no-one seems to use today, but is called for in the score. I would wonder what it sounds like and whether indeed I could one day, purely through curiosity, take this instrument up. It was not until later in life, when a shoulder injury did not allow me to practise my normal instrument, the trombone, that the ophicleide was rediscovered, researched, practised and my obsession revealed.

Melba has recorded Nick and his ophicleide, together with distinguished pianist, Dennis Miller, in a recital of music by Elgar, Rachmaninov, Handel, Grieg. Piazzolla and others. It is scheduled for release later this year (Melba MR 301111) and, as always, features stunning artwork by Ken Cato.

"… this recording is exceptional, not only in its rarity, but as much in its quality. For one to hear a brass instrument played with this level of musicality and virtuosity is rare. To hear the once forgotten ophicleide played here is really quite remarkable. It is surely one of the most original and natural-sounding brass recordings ever made."



Nick Byrne