Concerto for Horn and Strings
Concerto No.2 for Horn and Strings, Op.58
Concerto for Horn, Strings and Timpani
Horn Concerto, Op.58
David Pyatt (horn)
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded in January 1994 in the Town Hall, Watford (Jacob, Arnold and Bowen) & February 1996 in Henry Wood Hall, London
Reviewed by: David Wordsworth
Reviewed: April 2007
CD No: LYRITA SRCD.316
Duration: 75 minutes
Although the recording dates are given as 1994 and 1996, this is the first release of these tapings – another bizarre episode in the history of Lyrita. The link is the artistry of Dennis Brain, the inspiration for all the works here save that by Ruth Gipps.
David Pyatt, presumably recorded soon after he won the BBC Young Musician Competition, has no problems living up to the reputation of his illustrious predecessor and plays with rich eloquent tone, sparkling virtuosity and remarkable musicianship and is strongly supported by conductor and orchestra in unfamiliar repertoire.
Quite apart being worth hearing for such wonderful solo playing, the music itself certainly re-pays attention. Gordon Jacob (1895-1984) is perhaps known (as the excellent booklet note by Lewis Foreman hints) as a minor English Hindemith, able to turn his hand to pretty much any sort of music that an occasion demanded. Of the almost-twenty concertos that he wrote, and allowing that the few I have heard haven’t lingered in the memory, this one for horn demonstrates not only his impeccable craftsmanship but also real depth of passion and feeling, with some really heart-stopping moments, not least in the beautiful slow movement.
Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto No.2 has that composer’s usual combination of wit, charm and wistful melodies and pays particular attention to the horn’s upper register. York Bowen’s Concerto adds timpani to the string orchestra, again expertly written (a late work by a composer, 1884-1961, that seems to have been re-discovered at least as far as recording is concerned), but for this writer at least lacking in any truly distinctive personality.
The Horn Concerto by Ruth Gipps (1921-1999, her Opus 58, like the Arnold concerto recorded here) was written for the composer’s son, Lance Baker, and is a real find. This is a warm-hearted piece that shows a firm command of the (full) orchestra and makes the complete neglect of her large and varied output all the more surprising. Gilbert Vinter’s Hunter’s Moon is a delightful, impeccably fashioned encore – a classic of English light-music by a composer perhaps best known by Brass Band aficionados.