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Guildhall Horn Soloists
Richard BISSILL (b.1960)

Corpendium 1, for six horns (2004-05?) [3:16]
Guildhall School Horn Ensemble: Timothy Thorpe (principal), Elizabeth Chell, Angela Barnes, Andrew Budden, Michael Bailey, Eleanor Reed, directed by Hugh Seenan
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

Adagio and Allegro, for horn and piano (1849) [8:33]
Jeffrey Bryant (horn), Robin Bowman (piano)
Richard BISSILL (b.1960)

Lone Hall Call and Charge (1994) [3:21]
Richard Bissill (horn)
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Romance in E, for horn and piano (arranged from Cello Suite, Op. 16) (1866) [6:42]
Jeffrey Bryant (horn), Caroline Palmer (piano)
Gioacchino ROSSINI (1792-1868)

Le Rendezvous de Chasse (1828) [4:51]
Guildhall School Natural Horn Ensemble: Ursuala Monberg (soloist), Paul Cott, Elizabeth Chell, Stephen Nicholls, Alastair Rycroft, Heather Swinney, Heidi Martinsen, Michael Bailey, directed by Andrew Clark
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)

Sonata No. 2, for horn and piano [6:55]
Andrew Clark (natural horn), Caroline Palmer (piano)
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Bourrée 1 and 2, from Cello Suite No. 3 [3:11]
Paul DUKAS (1865-1935)

Villanelle, for horn and piano (1906) [6:06]
Hugh Seenan (horn), Robin Bowman (piano)
Richard BISSILL (b.1960)

Time and Space, for 2 horns and piano (2001) [8:42]
David Pyatt, Hugh Seenan (horns), Richard Bissill (piano)
Eugene BOZZA (1905-1991)

En Forêt, for horn and piano (1941) [6:32]
Richard Bissill (horn), Caroline Palmer (piano)
Richard BISSILL (b.1960)

Three Portraits, for 8 horns
Guildhall School Horn Ensemble: Angela Barnes (soloist), Rebecca Hill, Timothy Thorpe, Alastair Rycroft, Charlotte Lines, Christopher Lund, Andrew Budden, Eleanor Reed, directed by Richard Bissill
Recorded: The Guildhall School of Music & Drama Music Hall, March-April 2004, March-April 2005, June-July 2005
CALA CACD1036 [71:28]

Mastery of the horn is not easily achieved. One of my favourite passages in George Bernard Shaw’s musical criticism has things to say on the matter: "As to my correspondent who inquires whether there is such a thing as ‘a dumb French horn’, analogous to the ‘dumb piano’ used for teaching children to finger the keyboard, I am happy to be able to assure him that no such contrivance is needed, as the ordinary French horn remains dumb in the hands of a beginner for a considerable period. Nor can anyone, when it does begin to speak, precisely foresee what it will say. Even an experienced player can only surmise what will happen when he starts. I have seen an eminent conductor beat his way helplessly through the first page of the Freischütz overture without eliciting anything from the four expert cornists in the orchestra but inebriated gurglings". There are no unintended silences and no gurglings - inebriated or otherwise – to be heard on this thoroughly enjoyable recording by the staff and student ‘cornists’ of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Whether through the solo playing on some tracks or the impressive ensemble work on others, the results are uniformly assured technically and attractive musically.
Amongst the solo pieces, Jeffrey Bryant impresses in his playing of the Schumann, with its expressive adagio, and the tender Saint-Saens Romance. Here, as elsewhere, Caroline Palmer is an astute and sensitive accompanist. Eugene Bozza’s En Forêt, a test-piece written for the Paris Conservatoire, holds no fears for Richard Bissill and the considerable technical demands of another such piece, Dukas’s Villanelle, are brilliantly encompassed by Hugh Seenan. Andrew Clark’s natural horn makes a lovely sound in the piece by Cherubini.
As one might expect from a CD devoted to the horn, allusions to the hunt are frequent. They are very much to the forefront in Rossini’s Le Rendezvous de Chasse, in which Ursuala Monberg’s playing of the solo natural horn is beautifully complemented by the surrounding ensemble in a delightful evocation – albeit stylised – of a country scene. There are echoes of hunting fanfares in Bozza’s sylvan scene, too, and perhaps in Bissill’s Lone Call and Charge, though here the reference is primarily military. Richard Bissill’s music everywhere displays his profound understanding of the horn’s sound world (and he invents some pretty good melodies too).
There is much, in short, to enjoy and the programme is well-planned and various in idiom, to avoid any risk of monotony from the relatively limited instrumentation.

Glyn Pursglove

See also the review by Jonathan Woolf



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