David Griffin’s ‘For You’ and the World-Premiere Recording of the Broughton Sonata

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A teacher of mine long ago had a terrible nickname for fourth horn players in the orchestra. He called them the “garbage-men of the horn section.” While I wasn’t exactly sure what he meant, I knew that he intended it as some kind of insult. It stuck with me.

As I became a professional, I learned better of course. There was a story behind that teacher’s negative comment, and in hindsight he really had no business planting such an idea in my impressionable head.

If there ever were any misgivings about the capabilities of fourth horn players, David Griffin‘s new recording For You smashes this misguided notion and erases all doubt.

The playing here is simply superb.

My personal favorites from For You are the Dukas Villanelle (played with panache and soul), the Pascal sonata  (delightfully performed) and of course, the world-premiere recording of the Bruce Broughton sonata.

I asked David a few questions about his new recording.

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Q:
What prompted you to make this recording?

The primary reason for making it was to record the Broughton Sonata. It’ s a wonderful addition to the horn repertoire and deserves to be better known.

Q:
What equipment do you use and did you make any changes for the recording? If so, why?

I play a Steve Lewis horn built for me in 1986. About two years ago, I starting playing it with a bell flare from an Alexander Descant model 107 which helped to make the response and control in the middle register even better.

For this recording, I switched to my Ron Pinc (Oak Park, IL) single b-flat for the last two pages of the España. My mouthpiece is a Scott Laskey 725G.

Q:
What does the title ‘For You’ mean?

When I first starting playing solo recitals again a few years ago after about 10 years of not playing them, the approach I had was definitely one of trying to see what I could do. I am gradually moving towards to goal of presenting recitals “for you”.

Music is a gift for the listener and the performer should be as generous as possible in terms of expression, variety, and individuality. Hopefully, my CD conveys this.

Also, I thought it would be funny to present my CD to friends and relatives and say, “This is ‘For You’. That’ll be $15.”

Q:
The Broughton sonata is a world premiere recording. How did you manage to arrange that?

Bruce Broughton conducted the CSO Brass Ensemble a few years ago in a performance of his Fanfares, Marches, Hymns & Finale. Bruce brought a lot of energy to rehearsals, set the bar very high, and achieved excellent results from us.

Later, when colleague Dale Clevenger recommended the Broughton Sonata to me, I purchased the music since I had strong positive feeling about the composer.

After performing the sonata a few times, I learned that it had not been recorded.

Q:
Broughton is well-known for his movie scores. What thoughts do you have about the piece?

The Sonata is a fine concert piece, but it is not film music. I like the seemingly endless melodies and frequent color changes, especially the use of the stopped horn in the first movement. There is also a section in the middle movement requiring wide arpeggios to be played on the harmonic series that is evocative of the ancient origins of the instrument.

Many contemporary composers have abandoned melody which makes Broughton’s Sonata stand out even more because he has not joined the erudite crowd that creates music for itself, to be enjoyed by intellectuals and mathematicians.

The piece is challenging in terms of endurance, and for my performances and this recording, I’ve made a few minor cuts and additions, transposed one passage down an octave, and ignored a tempo marking when necessary.

I believe that my alterations have made the piece more approachable for horn players. I don’t hesitate to make changes in scores, even for pieces in the standard repertoire, if it improves the music or my chance of doing it well.

Q:
How do people purchase your new recording “For You?”

http://cdbaby.com/cd/griffindavid

Downloads and sound samples are available there, too!

Contents:

Eugene Bozza: En Foret, op. 40

Bruce Broughton: Sonata for horn and piano

  1. Broad and lyrically expressive
  2. Lyrically expressive: with a sense of timelessness
  3. With a relentless drive

Claude Pascal: Sonata pour Cor et Piano

Randall E. Faust: Call and Response for Solo Horn

Paul Dukas: Villanelle

Camille Saint-Saens: Romance, op.36

Vitaly Buyanovsky: Espana

Karl Pilss: Intermezzo, from Three Pieces

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Since 1995 David has been the fourth hornist in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He began his career with the Rochester Philharmonic and followed with positions in the orchestras of Montreal and Houston before joining the Chicago Symphony in 1995.

University of Horn Matters