Beyond Beethoven

Anneke Scott horn, Steven Devine 
resonus RES10267

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This programme of music for horn and fortepiano represents a cross-section of the music for this combination written in the wake of Beethoven’s op 17 Sonata, premiered in 1800 by the composer and horn virtuoso, Giovanni Punto, and considered the first ever composed for these instruments. The programme, and Anneke Scott’s erudite programme notes, draw fascinating connections between this first horn sonata and the repertoire on the CD. While listeners may well have heard of Ferdinand Ries, represented here by an impressive Grande Sonate, the other three composers – Friedrich Eugen Thürner, Friedrich Starke and Hendrik Coenraad Steup – will be unfamiliar to most. Thürner moved in elevated musical circles, working with the likes of Louis Spohr and his star clarinettist, Simon Hermstedt. Sadly a number of professional setbacks and deteriorating mental health led to his early death in an asylum in 1827. Horn player and composer Friedrich Starke was a close friend of Beethoven’s, also playing the sonata with him, and he draws heavily on the world of the hunting horn calls for his broodingly romantic Adagio and Rondo. Also a pianist, Starke published a method for the “Viennese Piano” in which he explores the various timbres possible using the pedal effects available. Steven Devine’s Fritz Viennese fortepiano of 1815 boasts four pedals and a bassoon knee lever. Finally, Hendrik Coenraad Steup’s links to the Beethoven Sonata are more overt if less direct, in that a note from the composer tells us that the opening six bars recall those of the earlier work. As one of the foremost proponents of period horn today, Anneke Scott provides confident, technically assured and historically informed accounts of this engaging chamber music, and is ably supported by Steven Devine on fortepiano. There is an innate musicality to this pairing, as well as a boldness and flamboyance, which must have been a feature of the original performances of this early repertoire for horn and piano.

D. James Ross

Download the booklet and listen to samples HERE.

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