CZECH PHILHARMONIC HORNS
Andrew Downes Sonata for eight
Beethoven Egmont Overture arranged for
eight horns and tuba by Alan Civil
Christer Danielson Concertante Suite for
tuba and four horns
Jindrich Feld Cassation for four
Czech Philharmonic Horns.
After reviewing a CD of tedious piano music by William Baines this splendid
and exciting CD restored my sanity!
Andrew Downes is director of music at the Birminghan Conservatoire and has
composed a lot of music including four symphonies, two concertoes, three
string quartets, chamber piano, a large oratorio and a childrens' opera.
I am currently engaged in writing a substantial article about him for this
website. His father, Frank Downes, was a professional horn player and a student
of the legendary Denis Brain and his uncle is Herbert Downes, the prominent
His Sonata for eight horns is an amazing piece. Full of interest,
contrast and logical musicality. It is not just a showpiece. In fact, most
of the music is thoughtful. We are not in the world of pomposity or braying
hunting horns. It is, first and foremost, good music. The sweetness of some
of the horn playing is simply exquisite. The performance is unequalled. All
who have heard this recording has praised it highly and rightly so.
Andrew's piece is unashamedly old-fashioned. It has lovely themes. He has
a wonderful knack of writing fascinating slow movements too. There is a poignancy
that is superlative. I know no other living composer who is so good at this.
I also admire the fact that the music is always controlled. While recklessness
in horn writing is very exciting, here we have a refinement that is laudable.
Reflective horn playing is an art in itself!
Immaculate music, immaculately played.
A real winner both in compostition and performance.
Alan Civil's arrangement of Beethoven stirring Egmont Overture is
fun. I am sure that the great composer would have loved it. It is a marvellous
piece in its original format... Beethoven was an absolute genius... but when
you hear this you may take off! The absence of percussion is notable as it
deprives the music of punctuation. The coda is very good.
I wondered how the piccolo run would be accomplished. Well, you will have
to listen for yourself. Hearing this, I wish I were a tuba player.
The Danielson piece is even greater fun. here we have welcome moments of
semi-brashness. But it is
a very good piece, hugely entertaining, a real old-fashioned divertimento
with that foot-tapping swagger. This is robust music. And, again,
I wish I were a tuba player. You would have to be a complete
misery not to enjoy the infectious humour! The final
March is simply fascinating.
Feld's Cassation completes this CD, another very attractive piece.
This is a must. It deserves to be a great success!