Rhapsodie: Fantasie: Poème

Howard Smith
Music and Vision Daily (UK)

From Melba Recordings, in close succession, we've had two enterprising horn CDs; the present concert with orchestra from highly experienced soloist, Tasmanian-born, Ben Jacks and Encore my Good Sir , a recital with piano featuring Shanghai-born horn soloist Lin Jiang.

Both discs have input from veteran Australian horn player Barry Tuckwell, principal with the London Symphony Orchestra from 1955 until 1968 and international soloist from 1968 until 1997. Tuckwell conducts the two orchestras with Jacks...

Jacks' dazzling account has an impressively high adrenalin quotient; a far cry from the impressionnisme/romantique of Damase and Koechlin.

The Damase Rhapsodie of 1987 was commissioned by Barry Humphries, AO, CBE, Australia's renowned satirist and comic character actor; also a Melba Recordings' artistic benefactor...Jacks, presents it with stunning breath control and consummate understanding of the work's overriding atmospheric demands.

Saint-Saëns' compositional mastery shouts out from the opening bars of his 8+ minute gem... With an orchestral 'a tempo' nod in the direction of the opening theme Saint-Saëns launches into a brilliant coda, concluding in a energetic vivace flourish; all of which Jacks conveys with apparent effortlessness.

Throughout this piece one cannot help but note outstanding responsiveness by The Queensland Orchestra, yet another witness to Australia's top notch instrumental/ensemble training...

This is sovereign horn territory and proves a glorious end-piece for Melba Recordings' typically triumphant concert, recorded with perfectly-judged resonance...