Engineered and produced by Bob Whitney at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Recorded February to April 2017 with funds provided by Creative Scotland.

Commissioned music funded by Creative Scotland, PRS for Music and the Hope Scott Trust.

All brass players seeking to play chamber music in the twenty-first century had to create their own repertoire, or perform the repertoire of another ensemble. In 2010 the commissioning process for Fair Peched begun: the vision was to steadily build a repertoire which when recorded expressed something of a manifesto for brass chamber music in the twenty-first century. For this to be possible it was necessary to accept that the project would be for some time an open-ended search: not all of the new music performed by Alba Brass since 2010 has been recorded on this album, we have selected the pieces that we kept returning to, the pieces that our audiences over the years have been most intrigued by.

Fair Peched, meaning to be out of breath in Scots slang, is Alba Brass' manifesto for brass chamber music in the twenty-first century.

Martin Green – Souch (2012)

Movement one: Gallus

Movement two: Fair Peched

Movement three: Bonnie and Radge


n. The sound of the wind, a light breeze, the rushing, roaring or murmuring of water, a whizzing blow. A deep sigh or gasp, heavy breathing, panting. A song, strain, tune, melody. Gossip, rumour, report, scandal. A hubbub, uproar, fuss, to-do. 

  1. v.Of the wind: to make a rushing, moaning, murmuring sound. To blow or drive like the wind, to speed on one's way. Of leaves or water etc. moved by the wind: to rustle, whisper, ripple, gurgle, lap, make a slapping sound. To breathe heavily, sigh, puff, pant, wheeze, splutter, choke, bubble, gurgle. To sing softly, to hum, to whistle. 

Programme note by Martin Green

All three movements of Souch are named after Scots words. I moved to Scotland in 2005 and one of the many things I love is a number of new words I have learnt, many of which have no direct English translation. I am a traditional musician by upbringing and it is very much through the ear, rather than the written page that I approach all music making. Alba Brass allowed me access to enough rehearsal time to try various sketches before I before I began to score the piece for real. These experiments involved extended techniques, and some guided improvisations. I recorded all of these sessions and from the experiments that were deemed successful, I had a pallet of ideas to start scoring in a more conventional sense. I must mention at this point Jane Gardner, who has done a huge amount of work assisting getting these ideas from concept to page, both through transcription, and invaluable suggestions on orchestration. This had felt like a collaborative journey and having access to players to experiment has made this extremely educational for me as a composer.

Ryan Quigley – Shorthand of Emotion (2012)

Ryan Quigley is best known as a trumpeter and band leader. As a composer, his work reflects a deep sensitivity for brass and much skill in synthesizing elements of jazz improvisation within notated music. Shorthand of Emotion is titled after Tolstoy’s remark that ‘music is the shorthand of emotion.’ Quigley writes that for him ‘this phrase perfectly sums up the power of music. Music elates, excites and pulls at the heart strings as no other art form can.’

Steve Forman – UnPlanFares (2010)

Five Etic Impressions of Glasgow for brass quintet and Glasgow ensemble

Movement one: Glass and Stone

Movement two: Cobbles and Tarmac

Movement three: Whiskey and Rain

Movement four: Carillons

Movement five: Leave to Remain

Accordion: John Somerville, Border Pipes and Guitar: Ali Hutton, Fiddle and Guitar: Innes Watson, Bodhrán: Steve Forman

Programme note by Steve Forman

Unplanfares is my very personal take on Glasgow though expatriate eyes and ears, an amalgamation of melting fanfares, mixed metaphors, mystical insight and hopeless delusion – all of it unfurling in a variety of incongruous vernaculars awash in whisky and rain.

Confused yet?  Good, you're perfectly prepared.

Eddie McGuire – Auriga (2004)

The Five Stars

Auriga was commissioned and premiered by Fine Arts Brass at the Carlisle International Summer Festival in 2004. The Scottish premiere was given by Alba Brass at the 2013 Cottiers Chamber Project.

Programme note by Eddie McGuire

While I have endeavoured to create a quintet enjoyable entirely through its musical discourse, the listener may be intrigued to know why the piece is impelled in certain directions by the title and its subject matter . The seed of the idea lay in the notion of ‘five stars’ and in discussion with Judith Peacock (a harpist with a predilection for astronomy). She drew my attention to ‘Auriga – the Charioteer’. Science writer Duncan Lunan then revealed to me the myths and characters of this constellation of stars. Its mythology was already ancient when mentioned by Eudoxus (4th century BC) symbolising the crippled son of Vulcan and Minerva and immortalising his invention of the chariot to achieve mobility. Older myths saw a picture of a goat carrier with two kids which commemorated the feeding of the infant Jupiter by the daughters of the King of Crete. All this inspired music that mixes striving, poignancy, tenderness, mystery and energy. Often each instrument represents a star of Auriga: with the first trumpet as Capella (Little Goat) a hot active binary that suddenly flares up: trumpet two as Menkalina (Arabic for Shoulder of Reinbolder) fainter and hence muted; the horn as El Nath (Heel of the Reinholder), trombone as Praja-Pati (force of creation in Hindu cosmology) with hints of Indian scales, and the tuba as Al Ma’az (the he-goat) periodically eclipsed by a mystery dark object and believed to be a giant star 120,000 times the luminosity of the sun.

Terry John’s – Paolozzi’s Windows (2010) Piano solo: John Cameron

Programme note by Terry Johns

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi was born in 1924 in Leith near Edinburgh and was interned at Saughton prison when Italy declared war on Britain in 1940. While he was a prisoner, his father, his grandfather and his uncle lost their lives when the Arandora Star, on its voyage to Canada was sunk by a German U boat in the Atlantic.

The Paolozzi’s were a family of ice cream makers who owned a fish and chip shop in Leith, and who, much like the Italians in the Welsh valleys were totally accepted as members of strong and close communities.
Many Italian families in Britain were left in peace, by and large by the local police at the declaration of war, and in many cases orders that had been issued to arrest people who were often family friends or even relatives by marriage were simply ignored. But Paolozzi and his family were unable to escape the consequences of the war which were particularly cruel for them However, Eduardo was greatly and appropriately honoured during his lifetime, having been Her Majesty's sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland from 1986 until his death in 2005. Here in Edinburgh the Millenium Window in St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral at Palmerston Place is truly a glittering example of his genius. It illuminates the south transept from the south wall. This piece was written specially to be performed at a midday concert in the light of the window. 

Alba Brass would like to thank Bryan Allen (trumpet) and Patrick Broderick (horn) for their seamless integration into some of the recording sessions for this album.