Thursday, February 16, 2017

Horn Ensemble Series: the London Horn Sound

There were some original music and transcriptions for horn ensemble. (Let me add here that what I mean by Horn Ensemble here is horn ensemble that consist of 5 players or more. Horn Quartet will be dedicated in other posts.) There were even fewer recording for horn ensemble. The only recording that I could think of is Wagner: Fantasien für 8 Hörner which is a recording of transcriptions of Wagner's music for horn octet performed member of Bayreuth Festival Orchestra horn section. It was a great recording.  However, when the London Horn Sound CD was released in 2006, horn ensemble playing was set to a new height. 

The London Horn Sound project was the 5th of London Sound series by Cala record led by Geoffrey Simon. The London Horn Sound aims to (quote from Cala record website)

"The London Horn Sound builds on the extraordinary tradition of French Horn playing in London (formerly the home to the talents of Dennis Brain, Alan Civil and Barry Tuckwell) and brings together for the first time, today's generation of world-class London-based players including Richard Bissill, Nigel Black, Anthony Halstead, Frank Lloyd, David Pyatt, Hugh Seenan, Michael Thomson and Richard Watkins. From Mozart to Queen, Rossini to Ellington, with a tip of the hat to film soundtracks in the shape of James Horner's fantasy from the box office smashing epic movie Titanic, complemented by deft and sensitive arrangements this is a truly unique showcase for the cream of the London crop." 

32 London horn players, who take part in this project, include member of London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, horn professors from Royal Academy of Music, Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Trinity College of Music as well as studio recording players.

Since the horn ranges between 4 octaves which provide opportunity to play both high and low part plus all music are transcriptions, all the pieces are able to transcribed in a way to display their artistry to the highest level. 

Here are some examples.

Titanic Fantasy featuring Hugh Seenan (London Horn Studio player, former principal horn of LSO)

To me, it is so amazing that they are able to match everything in such a manner that everything feel at ease.

Next is one of my favorite from this recording. Tico-Tico featuring Frank Lloyd and Richard Bissill.


Are you able to tell who is playing which solo? I can tell you that I do but I know how Richard Bissill play since he was my teacher!

If you want to hear some more, Cala record has put everything on YouTube! 

This recording was such a success that there were more horn ensemble recording that follow suits.

Next blog I will talk about the ensemble that blew the London Horn Sound away when it came out.

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