Contrabass Digest

To subscribe or unsubscribe, email



From: Francis Firth
Subject: [CB] Review of Sarrusophone Piece
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 10:49:20 -0000

Dear Contrabass Colleagues,
last Sunday (10th March) I attended in St. George's Church, Pinner, North Harrow, London the world premiere of Fantasy for Contrabass Sarrusophone in C and organ.
Here is some information about Gareth Wood:
"Gareth Wood (1950-) writes often for brass instruments and has in his output generally contributed considerably to the sum of light music. A Welshman, he was educated at the RAM and was for many years a double bass player with the RPO. His orchestral compositions include Fantasy on a Welsh Song and an overture Cardiff Bay; of his compositions for brass we may instance Culloden Moor, Coliseum, Aubade, Capriccio, for euphonium, cornet and band, Four Pieces for trombone quartet, Introduction and Allegro, Lullaby for euphonium and piano, The Margam Stones, Nocturne for flugel horn and band, a concert overture, Tombstone Arizona, and This Happy Island. Like
so many of our lighter composers Gareth Wood's output has a pronounced topographical flavour; he travels widely in his music at any rate as some of the foregoing titles show but he does not forget, as his namesake Arthur did not, his 'native heath'. "
The sarrusophone was a new instrument commissioned from and built by Benedikt Eppelsheim of tubax renown and is one of only 2 so far made, the other being, apparently, in Leipzig. This was a gleaming instrument and had been remodelled to make its fingerings easier and the make its size more easy to handle (and to make it possible to play it seated). The bore dimensions remain unchanged but its configuration is more compact and somewhat reminiscent of the tubax. It was commissioned mainly to play the parts in French scores such as Dukas's L'Apprenti Sorcier and has been used in recordings of Stravinsky's Threni and a disc of works by (Nadia?) Boulanger shortly to appear. Surviving contrabasses in C, apart from any difficulty of handling, are at a different pitch from a=440 and therefore
cannot really be played in a normal orchestral setting.
The players were my former school bassoon teacher, David Chatterton who nowadays (and has done for some time) teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and plays in the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age
of Enlightenment, and the renowned bassoonist and sometime pianist and (recently) also organist, not to mention scholar William Waterhouse.
The piece itself was in 5 movements two of which were unaccompanied for the sarrusophone and gave plenty of scope to hear the instrument which was used over its whole compass including some fairly high notes. The style of the
piece was fairly traditional although modern in idiom (i.e. not neo-romantic) and accessible with no extended techniques apart from the range of the instrument. The organ part featured some low (32'?) pedal notes which made a good comparison with the sarrusophone. I imagine that the piece is playable by a good amateur player as it did not sound exceptionally virtuosic - certainly not as difficult as Barney Childs's Golden Bubble.
David Chatterton hopes that the instrument will continue to be of use once it has been heard and thought that it would be helpful to have at least one piece of solo repertoire.
The performance was excellent and Prof. Chatterton had made some alterations to the score which he is going to discuss with Gareth Woods. He clearly mastered the whole compass of the instrument and was up to all the demands
of the score.
The sound of the instrument was full in the middle to low registers but a little thin and strained at the higher end. I should say that it does not sound as rich as a contrabassoon although it is obviously more powerful.
The rest of the concert included a demonstration (and performance unaccompanied of part of the part from Handel's Fireworks Music on David Chatterton's facsimile Stanesby contrabassoon. This sounded surprisingly effective.
Other items on the programme, played impressively well mainly by students from the Royal Academy and from Trinity College, included Corrette's La Phoenix (played here most effectively if inauthentically on 3 bassoons and contra - although in an interesting conversation afterwards with William Waterhouse he said that early contrabassoons often paid their way by replacing string basses, especially in Germany, as one of them could sound as loud as 3 strings), Bantock's Witches Dance for 3 bassoons, Prokofiev's Scherzo Humoristique, a Trio for 2 clarinets and bassoon by Pleyel, an arrangement of a jazz piece for 4 clarinets, 3 bassoons and contra, a piece whose composer I cannot remember for 3 bassoons and contra and 4-clarinet arrangements of extracts from Magic Flute.
All in all a most enjoyable concert.
Francis Firth


From: Opusnandy
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 10:52:59 EST
Subject: Re: [CB] Review of Sarrusophone Piece

A picture of the Eppelsheim C Contrabass Sarrusophone can be found at

I want one!
Jonathan Carreira
Carreira Music Productions

Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2002 14:37:31 -0800
From: Grant Green
Subject: [CB] Sarrusophone for sale!

This was just posted to the doublereed list:

I possess a instrument by "Ferdinando Roth e Maino Orsi" in Milano.
I want to sell this instrument; which are the quotations?
He is a contrabbass reed in EEb, perfectly restored and playable.
Paolo Gavelli

Email address is .

I'll post the picture he attached as " "

Best of luck!


Grant Green                            
Sarrusophones and other
Contrabass Winds        

***End of Contrabass Digest***

Next Digest ->
Previous Digest <-