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Andrew Downes Sonata for eight horns.
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 horns

Czech Philharmonic Horns.
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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 viola player.

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!

David Wright




David Wright



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