Marc-Antoine de Dampierre: Tons de chasse et fanfare; Anonymous (after Handel): From the Forrest Harmony; Haydn: Divertimento a tre; Mozart: From Duos for two horns; Heinrich Simrock: Thema mit sechs Variationen; Ignaz Moscheies: Introduction et rondeau écossais; Schubert: Auf dem Strom; Saint-Saëns: Romance; Strauss: Andante; Dukas: Villanelle.
The horn has a fascinating and complicated history, which Anneke Scott explores in this music written between 1734 and 1906. Scott is a wonderfully expressive and agile horn player. She goes for, and gets, maximum emotional impact in each piece. Sometimes she is smooth, sometimes raucous, sometimes singing softly, sometimes dancing with bounce, but she is always musically engaged, which makes listening to the CD a real pleasure.
Most of the repertoire on the disc will be familiar, in particular the Mozart Duos, the Dukas Villanelle, and the Schubert Auf dem Strom (the period instrument Scott plays on this piece, tuned to Classical pitch, makes the piece sound in E[musical flat] to our ears, instead of in E). The pieces by Dampierre are short horn calls, some of them with echoes nicely played by a second hornist (Walters). The Forrest Harmony pieces are duo settings of familiar music from Handel's Water Music. The Haydn is an extremely difficult (though not, apparently, for Scott) trio with violin and cello. The Simrock is a duo for horn and harp. The Moscheles is a Classical era showpiece. The Saint-Saëns is one of two Romances - this is the one in F major. Strauss's Andante is a short piece written to celebrate the composer's parents' anniversary.
Scott plays a different period instrument for each piece and handles them with aplomb - the range of sounds is wonderful. Liner notes describe each instrument and made me hungry for photos - I hope she will post pictures of the instruments on her website. The natural horns in the Dampierre, for example, are played without correcting pitch with the right hand and the intonation will surprise you. It adds to the raw, outdoor feeling of these calls. The Dukas is played on an instrument that can accommodate both the valveless opening section and the fingered remainder of the piece - the valve clicking on the recording reminds us of how far the technology has evolved.
Composers writing for the natural horn had the sound of covered notes in their heads and it is a pleasure to hear these sounds both executed with confidence and incorporated into Scott's wonderful interpretations of these pieces.
Daniel Grabois, University of Wisconsin-Madison