MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             



Buywell Just Classical  



Barry Tuckwell - Horn Sonatas
Ignaz MOSCHELES (1794-1870)
Thème varié for horn and piano, Op. 138b ‘Feuillet d’album de Rossini (Rossini’s Album Leaf) (c.1861) [8:14]
Duo for horn and piano in F major, Op. 63 (Introduction and Rondo écossais) (c.1821) [8:36]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Horn Sonata in E-flat major (1943) [10:32]
Horn Sonata in F major (1939) [17:16]
Joseph Gabriel RHEINBERGER (1839-1901)
Horn Sonata in E flat major, Op. 178 (1894) [21:39]
Barry Tuckwell (French horn)
Daniel Blumenthal (piano)
rec. April 1997, Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall, Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. DDD
ABC CLASSICS ABC 476 5254 [66:17]
Error processing SSI file

Prior to his retirement in 1996 Australian Barry Tuckwell was widely considered for many years as the world's foremost French horn player. This release features Tuckwell and Blumenthal in five contrasting works.

The chosen scores for French horn are Moscheles’ Opp. 63 and 138b which were influenced by Paris salons. There is also Rheinberger’s rarely encountered, Op. 178 and two 20th century sonatas by Hindemith. The recording was made shortly after Tuckwell’s series of farewell concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the USA.

My fondest reminiscence of Barry Tuckwell was as the soloist in the classic 1963 London, Kingsway Hall recording of Britten’s Serenade on Decca 436 395-2 and my most recent memory has been of Tuckwell in his latest career as a conductor.

Moscheles Thème varié came about after some light-hearted amusement the composer and his family had whilst visiting Rossini’s Paris home. This lyrical score is cast in several continuous sections through which Tuckwell moves effortlessly amid the shifting moods.

Moscheles’ Duo is thought to have been written in London for the horn-player and opera impresario Giovanni Puzzi. The reason for using the word écossais (Scottish) in the title is not explained in the annotation. In this single movement and lyrically melodramatic work Blumenthal’s piano shares the work relatively evenly with Tuckwell’s horn. Especially notable is Tuckwell’s superb breath control, heard to great effect at points 1:18-1:27 and 8:06-8:28 (track 2). 

Hindemith recognised that many instruments were badly served in the solo repertoire and in 1938 embarked on composing a solo sonata for each orchestral instrument. His three movement Horn Sonata in F major was composed in 1939 with typical speed. The focus is shared between the horn and piano in equal measures. In the opening movement, Tuckwell and Blumenthal provide carefree and sunny playing. In the slow movement they contrast a languid mood with revitalizing episodes of vigour. The lively finale is impressively and engagingly done. 

Troubled by dangers of the war in Europe, Hindemith moved to the safety of the USA where in 1943 he composed his Horn Sonata in E-flat major. Cast in four short movements this score was originally intended for the ‘alto horn’, a popular instrument in American wind ensembles, before being taken up by French horn players as well as saxophonists. Here the two players provide tender playing with undercurrents of mystery in the opening movement. Tuckwell’s breath control is again exceptional between points 1:46-2:01 (track 3). Their reading is buoyant and agitated in the second movement and mainly gentle and calm in the fourth. A fifty-four second piano introduction commences the fast-moving finale; here performed with an aristocratic conviction that cannot fail to impress.

Rheinberger composed his Horn Sonata Op. 178 in 1894 in a short length of time. It is cast in three substantial movements and was dedicated to Bruno Hoyer who was at that time the principal horn at the Munich Opera and premiered the work. The extended and highly romantic opening movement is extremely demanding and the partners here perform with nobility and assurance. In the slow central movement I loved their warm and affectionate interpretation and in the lyrical and imaginative con fuoco closing movement their playing moves the spirit and delights the senses.  

Throughout the five scores Tuckwell and Blumenthal are richly attuned to the spirit of the music. Their outstanding playing encompasses a demandingly wide range of expression. The 1997 sound quality is reasonably clear, however, the horn comes across in the balance as rather over-bright and some recording level adjustment may be necessary. This release from ABC Classics of non-mainstream repertoire serves as richly enjoyable evidence of the performing talents of French horn player Barry Tuckwell.

Michael Cookson


Buywell Just Classical  


Return to Index

Error processing SSI file