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We all like good music, and a lot of wonderful music for the horn was composed in the 20th century. I have five favorites that I chose to record on my Canto CD, the tracks of which are all now on YouTube (legally). In this brief series of articles, I wish to highlight these works, not all of which are performed often — but I think all deserving to be.
First composed of the group is the Nocturne, Op. 35, No. 10 of Reinhold Gliere. For many horn players the first work you might think of is his Concerto, composed in 1950. However, he composed also a group of four small works for horn and piano in 1908. Of the four, this Nocturne and also the Intermezzo are most frequently performed.
Moving ahead just five years to 1913 we have the Canto Serioso (“serious song”) of Carl Nielsen. Composer of many large works, this is his only work that features a brass instrument as a solo voice. The interaction of the horn and piano, the focus on the lower range of the horn, and the distinct tonal language of Nielsen create in Canto Serioso a unique color in the repertoire of the horn.
When the series continues we will look at two more wonderful, short works.