There’s some unusual
programming here but the principals
of the Gran Canaria Philharmonic have
gone for Beethoven-inspired variety
(Czerny) leavened by Brahmsian gravity
and mellowness (his one-time composition
student, Gustav Jenner) by way of French
sonata virtuosity in the shape of the
works of hornist supreme, Frederic Duvernoy.
It’s also a good way of creating a worthwhile
programme that allows the members of
Ensemble Isola to showcase their talents
We all know that the
boy Czerny studied with Beethoven and
that he remained a resolute upholder
of Beethovenian musical principles.
But I think you’ll still get a jolt
when you hear the opening of his Grande
Serenade Concertante, sounding for all
the world like a slight reworking of
the opening of the Emperor Concerto.
That apart this is a cannily crafted
and typically espressivo work, introducing
each instrument in turn and little chains
of cadential passages – predominantly
bright, lithe and cheerful but with
moments of depth (such as the Adagio).
The Theme is gravely spacious and there
are plenty of opportunities for each
instrument to star. Variation 2 is particularly
jovial, whilst Variation 4 opens with
some fugato and gets brassily confident.
The rather pensive horn and clarinet
exchanges in the Sixth Variation are
also delightfully realised and the piano
leads in the last of the variations,
where there’s some determined flexing
of pianistic sinew.
Gustav Jenner was Brahms’
student for seven years. Born in Keitum
in 1865 he studied in Kiel but found
his way to Vienna and to Brahms, on
whose recommendation he was to become
Music Director at Marburg University.
The Trio, written before 1897, is in
four movements and bathes in Jenner’s
Brahmsian inheritance. Both melodically
and thematically it comes close to the
formal procedures Brahms used, especially
so in the piano writing. This dependence,
or absorption, is occasionally relieved
by moments of trenchancy – not least
in the Moderato opening movement – though
one has to admire the construction and
idiomatic writing. Jenner was also good
at changeability, at shifting moods,
but comes closest and most explicitly
Brahmsian in the presto third movement,
a Scherzo with a nice slow trio section.
Duvernoy was a Parisian
horn virtuoso who rose to become first
horn of the Imperial Chapel under Napoleon.
Soloist, composer, pedagogue, and writer
of important treatises he shows his
stuff in these two slim three movement
sonatas. The Second really is a concise
slither (it lasts barely four minutes
– shades of Rued Langgaard) but the
First sports a pithy Mozartian flourish
and is expertly crafted – as one would
If the programme appeals,
and it’s certainly eclectic, then the
performances by Ensemble Isola are attractive