Encore My Good Sir

John C. Dressler
The Horn Call (US)

Lin Jiang is one of Australia’s most sought-after horn soloists. He has toured Japan as a soloist and performed numerous times with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra Victoria. A diverse program of virtuoso music for horn, this disc presents a terrific cross-section of repertoire for the solo hornist.

Lin makes good use of nuance and shaping in the opening section of the Schumann as contrasted with dramatic presentation in the second section. If you have neither heard nor performed Maxwell Davies’s Sea Eagle, wait no longer to experience it. It was composed for Richard Watkins in 1982, then a 20-year-old rising star in the horn world. It required the same youthful virtuosity and precociousness then as displayed quite convincingly here. The work ‘is an attempt to convey the energy and majesty of the (huge White-Tailed Sea Eagle) bird’ of the Orkney Islands. Be ready for an over seven-minute work-out.

By way of major contrast, Schuller’s Nocturne is pensive with many excellent turns of phrase and musicality demanded of the player all performed marvellously by Lin.

Salonen’s work is reminiscent of Serocki’s solos for trombone: easy to listen to on first hearing, somewhat extended Romantic-era tonalities, and singable melodic ideas with some jocular rhythms along the way. It is my introduction to the piece. Hunting fanfare flairs are included as well as several rising fourths with melodic shapes. Have your high c’’’ ready too. There are moments of reflection in addition to more demonstrative passagework. Clocking in at eight minutes in length, this one-movement work demands a great deal of the player.

It’s been a while since I have come across a new recording of Poulenc’s memorial piece for Dennis Brain. As you recall, it is built on a serial row and portrays jubilance, anger and sadness, all of which change abruptly.

By way of contrast, Marais’s country dance which Dennis Brain made a signature trademark is a fun and delightful one-minute piece. It consists primarily of thirds and decorated scales within G major.

Some horn players forget about Hindemith’s ‘other’ sonata. It is good to have a fresh recording of it here. Lin gives the second movement a particularly exciting and vibrant reading. My hat is off to pianist Benjamin Martin for excellent execution of especially the opening to the last movement which has a most challenging part before the movement settles into its pensive opening statement by the horn. This recording does not include the reading of the accompanying text.

I am so glad someone else is playing Ketting’s Intrada on horn. I first heard it on trumpet long ago and remember it as one of the first unaccompanied brass solos I had ever heard. It is tonal with ample opportunity to display a variety of rhythmic, melodic, and shaping nuances. It is most idiomatic for horn as well as trumpet, and I highly recommend it.

The final piece on the disc is a work written for Lin Jiang. Here a happy-sounding opening with a little jazzy flavour to it greets the audience. It is an easy work upon first hearing with some wonderfully rhapsodic moments. At under three minutes, it is perfect for a recital opener or closer. There are some surprises in store for the listener on this disc and I will not give them away. Your library definitely has space for this disc.