Rhapsodie: Fantasie: Poème

Jean-Jacques Millo
Opus HD (France)

This release merits our respect. The recordings of works for horn are scarce, and this new one further differs from others in that it mixes past and present, including the first-time release of, for example, the remarkable Concerto for Horn and Orchestra by Jean-Michel Damase dating from 1995, and the Fantasy for Horn and Orchestra by George William Marshall-Hall from 1905. Still, it is mainly French music that is honoured here, or rather a certain French music, the one which first saw the light of day in 1795 after the revolution upon the opening of the Conservatoire de Paris, where the horn was taught. ‘A secondary effect of the industrial revolution’, says John Humphries, ‘was the invention of pistons designed to regulate the flow of a gas in a tube, and the application of such technology to brass wind instruments could not but follow.’ In addition to the above-named works, the recording also offers the Poème for Horn and Orchestra Op.70 bis by Charles Koechlin from 1927, Villanelle by Paul Dukas from 1906, Morceau de Concert for Horn and Orchestra Op.94 by Camille Saint-Saëns from 1887, and finally the Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra by Jean-Michel Damase from 1987, it too for the first time on disc. The young horn player Ben Jacks succeeds in inhabiting each score with passion, intelligence and poetry. His technique works wonders in the most virtuoso passages, and one is amazed at the colours his instrument reveals. This is a great moment for concerto music.