The Swiss composer Jean Daetwyler has the lionís share
here, and his two works for Alphorn are the most substantial ones in
this release. Both were written for the present soloist who, after demonstrating
the Alphornís possibilities, convinced the composer to embark on concertos
for this most unusual instrument. The limited range of the instrument
poses a number of problems which Daetwyler solved in his own way. In
Dialogue avec la nature, he confronts Man (Alphorn) and
the bird (piccolo) in a long first movement capped by a short lively
Rondo. The Concerto for Alphorn and Orchestra is still
more ambitious and, to some extent, musically more satisfying. It alternates
two longer, mostly slow movements and two shorter, lively ones, of which
the joyfully rural Hirtentanz is a delightful romp. The last
movement is a darker Totentanz.
Ferenc Farkasís Concerto Rustico for
Alphorn and strings is, to my mind, the most successful work here. That
Farkas managed to impart to this work an unmistakable Hungarian feel
is no mere feat. A really delightful piece.
Leopold Mozartís Sinfonia Pastorella
might well have been one of the first "serious" compositions
for Alphorn. Mozart père wrote several works for or with
unusual instruments; no wonder that he also tried his hand at an Alphorn
concerto, and a jolly good piece of music it is.
Excellent performances of these unfamiliar works unlikely
to be heard in concerts. No masterpiece here, though Farkasís concerto
is quite a nice rarity. An attractive collection of fine and entertaining
works for a most unusual instrument. Well worth a hearing, were it only
for curiosityís sake, especially at Naxosís bargain price.
See also review by Neil Horner