Was it really three years ago that I reviewed Tantara's
CD anthologies of the music of Leroy Robertson and Arthur Shepherd?
In the intervening years the company (a division of the School
of Music at Brigham Young University) has not slept. I recommend
a visit to their site.
Gates (a name well known to Utahns and
Mormondom) writes a Sonata that is defiantly romantic, humorous
and extremely lyrical. The natural horn overtones of the opening
may recall Britten's Serenade and in the Romanza,
Vaughan Williamsí Tuba Concerto. This is however a fresh-sounding
work performed with personality and engagement. The main theme
of the first movement is one for the collectors' book (2.34) and
let us not also forget the winding and nobly capricious tune of
the finale (3.24). Halsey Stevens was a pupil of Bloch
and in addition to composing wrote programme notes for the LAPO.
He writes a pleasing sonata which meanders between Prokofievian
fraîcheur, Gothicry and prairie pastoral all overlaid with
a modest dissonance. Alec Wilder, a long-time friend of
Frank Sinatra (who conducted some of Wilder's solo wind works
with strings) moved freely between the jazz and classical worlds.
The sonata is in fact his third sonata which happens to be for
horn and piano. As with all the works here this is a decidedly
lyrical effort playing to the singer in the hornist (1.50 tr.
7). By the way the CD must have swapped the titles of the first
two movements of the Wilder because the second movement, as played
here, is definitely not allegro scherzando. The very brief
ragtime third movement is followed by a fourth that is
marked allegro con fuoco but is more of a winding serenade.
Once again resilient lyrical themes are proffered. I had heard
of the other three composers but Beversdorf is completely
new to me. Like Wilder and Gates he is a product of the Eastman.
In 1946 Hanson conducted his Symphony No. 1. His Horn Sonata comes
from the late 1940s (I couldn't track down dates for the other
works). You could describe his style as fruity neo-classical swerving
Lowe has an invincibly secure technique and plenty
of humour and fantasy. He is well matched with James Margetts
who adeptly tackles the often spikily Prokofiev-like lines encountered
in the Stevens and Beversdorf.
This has only whetted my appetite to hear more
by these composers especially Crawford Gates. Are there any other
works of his on CD? He deserves a much wider stage!
While Tantara are considering this I hope that
they will try to record the Leroy Robertson Violin Concerto, his
Second Symphony and The Book of Mormon.
A predominantly lyrical set of four horn sonatas
performed with characterful defiance, wit and fantasy. Well matched
by excellence in the recording department and decent notes (notwithstanding
the lack of dates for the works).