Brief reviews: Recent recordings by Anneke Scott, natural and piston horns

2008
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Today the final of this series of brief reviews is of not one but two new CDs featuring Anneke Scott performing a wide variety of music.

Getting it out right away, I love these recordings and basically everything about them. The performances are excellent, production and packaging excellent, and that they are mostly recordings of works that are pretty much not known today that deserve to be better known is also outstanding.

First up is Mozart: Stolen Beauties, chamber music by Mozart, Punto, and Michael Haydn. This recording is simply stunning. If you like natural horn and the music of Mozart at all you simply must obtain this CD.

I really love this CD. I may connect to it so much as I am familiar with some of the music and appreciate how the Mozart themes and works were reworked by musicians back in the day. I was especially taken by the Mozart arrangement by Barham Livius (1787-1865) for pianoforte, horn, viola, and cello, performed on the early valved horn. This work is for an unusual combination but extremely attractive — and also, as I am working on a recording project of my own involving early valved horn (series of articles starts here), I recognize and appreciate the challenges. This was no simple recording to make.

Speaking to challenges, Scott meets them all beautifully. Wonderful intonation, phrasing, great music making. Besides the unusual Mozart arrangements and little known works, the CD concludes with the Mozart Quintet K. 407. A wonderful performance by Scott and the period-instrument ensemble Ironwood.

The other CD is titled Songs of Love, War, and Melancholy, the operatic fantasias of Jacques-François Gallay. Gallay is best known to horn players today for his etudes and unmeasured preludes, but he composed and arranged a great deal of music for a variety of ensembles. This recording features full fantasias on themes of operas (mostly Donizetti and Bellini) performed by horn and piano, and also three shorter numbers with soprano. A great recording that will be perfect for anyone to reference who is thinking of performing one of these fantasias today, but also just great background listening music as well.

The most familiar sounding number to me was the first selection from L’Elisir d’amore but I would be lying if I said I really recognized anything in this CD. A lot of melodies sounded familiar of course, but mostly falsely so, more like generic opera melodies — but that said, this music should be performed more, I believe it will be effective recital fare.

Horn players with an interest in opera or Gallay certainly will want to obtain this CD. The Amazon listing for Songs of Love, War, and Melancholy is here. Curiously, Mozart: Stolen Beauties does not seem to be on Amazon, but a search will quickly lead you to other sources for purchase.

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