Doug Yeo - Le Monde du Serpent


Staff member
As part of my Christmas presents, I treated myself to Doug Yeo's latest offering, "Le Monde du Serpent". Doug is the widely known and respected bass trombone player with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and has apeared and recorded frequently with brass bands, including "Proclamation" where he was accompanied by Black Dyke.

As is apparent from his writings and his web-site, Doug is very keen on using instruments that are appropriate for the various works he is playing, and this has led him to explore the use of sackbuts, cimbasso and the serpent. His new disc consists of a wide selection of works featuring the instrument, sometimes as soloist, sometimes as an ensemble player. There are examples of plainchant, etudes written for the Paris Conservatoire, a serpent duo and two trios, including a lively "Foxtrot" by Matyas Seiber, and two wind ensemble items, one being a very attractive nonet version of the "Allegretto" from Beethoven's Seventh, featuring a contrabass serpent instead of the intended contrabassoon.

There are also four contemporary works: "Variations on The Pesky Serpent" is a set of variations on a 19th century New England folk song, whilst "Quatra Tanka", for soprano voice and serpent features a number of contemporary playing techniques. Simon Proctor's "Serpent Concerto" was written for Alan Lumsden, the player largely responsible for the revival of interest in the instrument, and is given here with piano accompaniment.

Doug explains how his own interest in the serpent stemmed from preparing for a performance of the "Messe Solonelle" by Berlioz, which also includes parts for buccin (the French Revolutionary type of trombone with a dragon head bell but a sound more akin to a horn) and ophicleide. In "Les Mots de Berlioz" Doug is joined by the players of Berlioz Historic Brass in a choral setting of some of the composer's words that for me is one of the highlights of the disc.

Since receiving the recording I must have played it at least 7 or 8 times and keep finding new delights. I would certainly recommend it to anyone with an interest in period instruments, or simply looking for something of the beaten track. As for the sound of the instrument, at times it is very bassoon-like, sometimes more brassy, but it is always much more attractive than its name would imply!

More details can be found on Doug's website:

The UK stockists are Warwick Music - I had to wait a few weeks for my copy as they were awaiting new supplies from the States, but they are usually very efficient:

Brian Kelly

Active Member
I can add my own recommendation for this recording. Something a bit different, but the quality shines through, and it is interesting to hear what these old instruments sound like (though I suspect they are better played on this CD than they were when they were in common use).

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