Barrows Plays Wilder

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This weekend I got back to my old copy of John Barrows and his French Horn: Music of Alec Wilder. It was a Golden Crest release from 1960 (RE 7002) and so far as I know is long out of print.

There is however another Barrows recording now available from Sotone, where it also gives a fairly long bio, but with one major omission, Barrows (1913-1974) taught at Arizona State at least for the 1971-72 school year and possibly for the preceding year as well [UPDATE: See comments below]. He was not in good health in the spring of 72, which was the year Ralph Lockwood was hired as horn professor at ASU, and Barrows returned to Wisconsin. But I digress.

I like the description of Barrows playing on the Sotone site, where they state:

Barrows’s elegant style was an inspiration to numerous composers, most notably Alec Wilder who said that his playing made the music sound better than he thought it could.

On the old Golden Crest recording it includes the Wilder First and Second Sonatas and also the Suite for horn and piano. This recording is very interesting–the words “easy” and “cool” come to mind for me–and very worth the trouble to track down. Just like the Polekh recording of Gliere, hearing these recordings is much like what it might be like to hear Leutgeb play Mozart. Modern recordings are great but this early one will change how you approach these works.

University of Horn Matters