Encore My Good Sir

Gregory Keane
Limelight (Australia)

First, let me compliment Melba Recordings on the elegance and quality of the presentation. Despite the notorious paucity of solo music for French horn, this CD contains, as you can see, music from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Lin Jiang is only 22, but lists among many accolades the Barry Tuckwell Brass Prize at the Melbourne International Brass Festival in 2004. His tone is beautifully refulgent and supple; and it is no surprise he’s in constant demand ... The most fascinating piece I found was Master of the Queen’s Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s The Sea Eagle, inspired by the huge white-tailed sea eagle indigenous to the north of Scotland. The most poignant is Marin Marais’ Le Basque, originally composed for viola and arranged by Dennis Brain, arguable the greatest French horn player ever, and performed as an encore by him at the 1957 Edinburgh Festival. A week later, Brain was killed when his MG went off the road while returning from the Festival. Francis Poulenc, who happened to be in London visiting his publisher, dashed off his Elegy for Dennis Brain the following day. The sound is admirable.