Wow! A Must For Horn Players!
Paul Rossi | Walla Walla, WA | 10/03/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased this Soren Hermansson CD about eight months ago, and I am completely amazed by his wonderful, musical playing.
This CD is very special for several reasons. First, we get to hear a little-known Scandinavian horn player give Swedish works and other obscure works for horn. Soren Hermansson plays with a bright, beautiful tone that is appropriate for bringing his sound to the forefront of the orchestra. Also, we get a very rare recording of Gordon Jacob's fine Horn Concerto. Furthermore, this CD gives a balanced perspective to horn players by offering a different tonal and playing concept.
The Jacob Horn Concerto opens the piece. Hermansson is very rhythmically precise in his playing. He has full command of the horn, and he plays with beauty and accuracy. Hermansson plays with a Brain-like ease. The Cadenza in the first movement is beautiful. The concerto's slow movement is beautiful, transcendent, mournful and autumnal. Hermansson plays very emotionally, and the result is very gripping. He sustains the long lines and gives good forward motion. The last movement of the Jacob Horn Concerto really cooks! The quarter note equals 132, and Hermansson single-tongues it perfectly, no easy feat! He negotiates the very, very difficult acrobatics with seeming ease.
Matyas Seiber wrote a "Nocturno for Horn and Strings," dedicated to Dennis Brain. It is a difficult piece to get into. It is almost as uncompromising in its musical language as Seiber's compatriot, Bela Bartok. I like the Bartok-like musical ideas presented. This work is very difficult musically and emotionally, and I have not really worked much on this piece, myself. Hermansson plays with great dedication and musicality.
Lars-Erik Larsson wrote a set of twelve concertinos for solo instruments, and Hermansson includes the one for horn and orchestra here. The opening movement is full of Swedish melodies and longing for the Northland. One can hear the influence of Carl Nielsen, one of my favorite composers. There is a good variety of lyrical playing and declamatory power, also. The second movement is strange, detached and eerie. Hermansson and the orchestra do an excellent job giving it an air of mystery. The finale is a fast, epic, rhythmic jaunt. It requires bounciness, lightness, and quick fingerwork. Also, there are sections which call for great power and stamina, much like the finales of the Strauss Horn Concertos.
The Max Reger "Scherzino for Horn and String Orchestra" is a very brief work. It is an entertaining curiosity, and I could not order the sheet music because it was out of print. It is a small, salon-like piece, and there is not a lot of emotional substance to it. It is nice, though.
My favorite work on the CD, Kurt Atterberg's Horn Concerto, is an amazing work. It uses lots of colorful orchestration, harmonic modulations, and tension and release. The opening is bold and forward, almost like a Spanish bullfight. It is very rhythmic, and it requires a dramatic presence. There are plenty of Swedish idioms here, also. The slow movement is incredible. It is jam-packed with emotional lyricism, passion, and interesting orchestral uses (a piano cascades up and down the keyboard at regular intervals). Hermansson is incredibly lyrical and expressive, even though the movement goes on too long. The finale is very much in the bouncy hunting tradition of the Strauss horn concertos. There are frequent modulations and very fast, delicate passagework. The Atterberg Horn Concerto is really awesome.
Overall, this CD is a rare treat. Soren Hermansson is a wonderful, skilled horn musician, and he is well accompanied by Edward Tjiviel and the orchestra. These pieces are not readily available elsewhere, and you will enjoy it. It is well worth the twenty dollars!!"