Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Tantara Records, PO Box 24498
Provo, Utah 84602, 1-800-879-1555

Four American Sonata for French Horn
Crawford GATES (b.1921) Horn Sonata Op. 48 [25.01]
Halsey STEVENS (1908-1989) Horn Sonata [13.39]
Alec WILDER (1907-1980) Horn Sonata No. 3 [13.52]
Thomas BEVERSDORF (b.1924) Horn Sonata [11.51]
Laurence Lowe (french horn)
James Margetts (piano)
rec. de Jong concert hall, Brigham Young University. DDD

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 into romantic.

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).

Rob Barnett

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