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.
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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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
(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.
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.
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.