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Len Mullenger:

Complete Music for Horn and Fortepiano.
Introduction et Variations concertante, Op. 248. Drei Brillante Fantasien, Op. 339. Andante e Polacca.
Andrew Clark (horn); Geoffrey Govier (fortepiano).
Helios CDH55074 [DDD] [79'40]

Andrew Clark is such a master of both natural and valved horn that this disc will give pleasure to all. Technique never seems to get in the way. So concerned is he that we understand details of the history of the valved horn (and of the time of transition between natural and valved instruments), he contributes a long and exhaustive essay. As with many such things, all is not clear-cut. The historical justification for using hand-stopping (the means used to raise or lower the pitch of an open note by a semitone) when one has access to the full chromatic because of the addition of valves is traced in Clark's note. He uses this technique in the Introduction et Variations concertante.

Clark is certainly a virtuoso on the hand horn, and he uses the 'stopped' effect to fine expressive purpose. Schubert Lieder lovers will find many of their favourites in the three Fantasias. Czerny strings the songs together (and includes arrangements from Alfonso und Estrella and the four-hand F minor Fantasie in the bargain). Clark and Govier relish every challenge that comes their way.

The final item, the Andante e Polacca, has many points of contact with Weber's Konzertstück for horn and orchestra (the latter rarely performed because of its fiendish difficulty, however).

Strongly recommended to the curious.


Colin Clarke



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