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Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

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Guildhall Horn Soloists
Richard BISSILL (b.1960)
Corpendium 1 for 6 horns (2004-05?) [3.16]
Timothy Thorpe principal; Ensemble directed by Hugh Seenan
Lone Horn Call and Charge (1994)  [3.21]
Richard Bissell (horn)
Time and Space for 2 horns and piano (2001) [8.42]
David Pyatt and Hugh Seenan (horns) Richard Bissell (piano) 
Three Portraits for 8 horns (1990) [13.23]
Guildhall School Horn Ensemble directed by Richard Bissell
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano (1849) [8.33]
Jeffrey Bryant (horn) Robin Bowman (piano)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Romance in E for horn and piano – from Cello Suite Op.16, movement IV [6.42]
Jeffrey Bryant (horn) Caroline Palmer (piano)
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)
Le Rendezvous de Chasse 91828) [4.51]
Ursula Monberg (solo natural horn) Guildhall School Horn Ensemble directed by Andrew Clark
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Sonata No.2 for horn and piano (1804) [6.55]
Andrew Clark (natural horn) Caroline Palmer (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Bourée 1 & 2 from Cello Suite No.3 [3.11]
Jonathan Lipton (horn)
Paul DUKAS (1865-1935)
Villanelle for horn and piano (1906) [6.06]
Hugh Seenan (horn) Robin Bowman (piano)
Eugene BOZZA (1905-1991)
En Forêt for horn and piano (1941) [6.32]
Richard Bissell (horn) Caroline Palmer (piano)
The Guildhall Horn Soloists and accompaniments, as noted above
Recorded at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Hall, 2004-05
CALA CACD1036 [71.28]

 

 

 

The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is celebrating its hundred and twenty-fifth birthday this year and this disc attests to the fact with a “School of 2004” disc, three of whose alumni have been appointed to prestigious positions in British orchestras during 2005. The Guildhall’s Horn school is clearly in rude health and this soloist and ensemble disc serves renewed notice of its standing.

Professor of Horn at the Guildhall for over twenty years – a period which has overlapped his status as principal of the LPO – it’s Richard Bissill whose presence looms the largest as exponent (horn and piano) as well as composer. It makes him seem a long-bearded veteran but amazingly Bissill is still only forty-five. His Corpendium features the Ensemble in an arresting and rhythmically catchy piece written for this disc. It thrives on contrasts and on superior unison playing. A decade ago he wrote Lone Horn Call and Charge for solo horn and here he plays it himself, exploring testing lower register work and a quick lip.

Time and Space features Bissill at the piano accompanying the formidable two-team line–up of David Pyatt and Hugh Seenan. Written in 2001 this has a strong role for the un-subservient piano but an even starrier one for the two horns, which get progressively looser and jazzier and explore some excellent filmic regions (is it me or is that a reminiscence from Fiddler on the Roof?) and a mini chase sequence between the horns. The filmic element should come as no surprise at all since Bissill has written for television documentaries as well as test pieces for competitions of his own instrument. Finally there is Three Portraits written for eight horns and once more played by the talented and youthful Guildhall Ensemble. This was written in 1990 for the British Horn Society and is a rich and warmly hued work, fizzing with an ear for sonority and for tunes. The opening portrait is On Vacation and is a kind of Heldenleben-meets-Star Wars affair full of chatty personality, whilst the second sports a melody of almost Bernstein-like proportions and one that slowly emerges with real distinction. The finale is a jaunty high-spirited romp. This is a delightful work and a splendid addition to the horn ensemble repertoire.

Amongst examples of Bissill the composer and exponent we have some examples of classics of horn writing and one or two adaptations. The Schumann is played with legato lyricism and hunting brio by Jeffrey Bryant and he gives life to the Saint-Saëns Romance which is taken over from the Cello Suite. Andrew Clark and pianist Caroline Palmer tackle the Cherubini sonata with its middle range explorations and virtuosic demands – it was written in 1894 as a Paris test piece. Clark plays on a natural horn whose woollier tone sits well here, as does his nimble playing; does Palmer hint at a fortepiano?

Jonathan Lipton plays Bach, in an unlikely sounding arrangement derived from the third Cello Suite. If hornists have to colonise these works than they’d better all be as good as Lipton. Dennis Brain loved to espouse the Dukas, which is here in the confident hands of Hugh Seenan - who meets all its very considerable demands with aplomb. Eugene Bozza’s is a name that crops up frequently in these circles and his 1941 piece is an imaginative and testing one, giving echo effects to the player to negotiate and taking him down to the sulphurous depths of his instrument before encouraging him with some La Chasse hunting fanfares.

Recorded over the period of sixteen months this can take its place nicely as calling card for the Guildhall, showcase for Bissill, locus for some eminent colleagues to display their wares, and encouragement for experimentation in the repertoire – also indeed as Cala’s latest entrant in their generous Horn and Brass series that documents the London scene.

Jonathan Woolf

 



 



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