HINDEMITH: Sonata for Horn & Piano. Sonata for Alto Horn & Piano. Horn Concerto (version for chamber group by Bourget).1 Sonata for 4 Horns.2 Kleine Kammermmusik No. 2 1 / Louis-Philippe Marsolais, Fr-hn; David Jalbert, pno; 1Pentaèdre; 2Simon Bourget, Louis-Pierre Bergeron, Xavier Fortin, Fr-hn / Atma Classique ACD2 2822
Canadian horn player Louis-Philippe Marsolais is a busy man, playing not only n the Orchestre Métropolitain but also chamber music, often in the company of the wind quintet Pentaèdre which is featured on this recording. I was convinced to review this CD by hearing some clips of him on YouTube and being very impressed by his bright, open tone, so different from the average horn players nowadays who put their hand too far into the bell.
I was not disappointed. Marsolais not only revels in his open sound on this recording, but he plays everything with brio, bringing the music to life in a way I’ve seldom heard. Collectors of vintage recordings like to hold up Dennis Brain’s recordings of the Horn Sonata and the Concerto, but to be honest, he didn’t play the music all that well. He sounds a bit stodgy, even a little tentative. I don’t think Hindemith’s music was very comfortable for him. Marsolais, on the other hand, seems to revel in this repertoire.
Praise must also be given to pianist David Jalbert for his tight, lively accompaniment. It was also a pleasant surprise to hear the chamber wind arrangement of the orchestral part of the Horn Concerto. I’m not sure that I liked it by comparison with the original score, but it’s certainly played in a lively manner by Pentaèdre along with Marsolais.
The other three horn players in the Four-Horn Sonata are also very fine, making this an excellent performance as well, and Pentaèdre also contributes to a lively performance of the Kleine Kammermusik No. 2. This is certainly a delightful disc and, if you don’t already have these works in your collection, is an excellent place to start.
—© 2021 Lynn René Bayley
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