Cors de la Louisiane

In my first post of 2011 I mentioned an upcoming horn quartet performance, and in this post I thought I’d share a few more details about the concert, as well as some thoughts on horn quartets in general.  I was recently asked to join a horn quartet called Cors de la Louisiane, a group made up of members of the Shreveport Symphony and university horn professors.  Looking at the picture included here, the members are (clockwise from the bottom left) Thomas Hundemer, principal horn in the Shreveport Symphony and faculty member at Centenary College, Dr. Kristine Coreil, third horn in the Shreveport Symphony and Associate Professor of Horn at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, Craig Pratt, also a member of the Shreveport Symphony horn section, and yours truly.   I was both honored and excited when they asked me to join the ensemble, as I haven’t played regularly with a horn quartet since graduate school.  I remember rehearsals and performances with that quartet quite fondly, both for the experience I gained and the friendships I made. There is some tremendous repertoire out there for the horn quartet, and the style and versatility of the ensemble is really only limited by your imagination.  Simply hop on over to YouTube or Amazon.com  for a quick taste of what modern horn quartets are capable of doing, from Bach fugues (American Horn Quartet) to pop and rock music (Genghis Barbie).  If you are a horn player at any level and are interested in forming a chamber ensemble, I strongly recommend the horn quartet.  The skills you learn playing in a horn quartet can translate directly to your large ensemble playing as well as other chamber groups you may be involved in, like brass or woodwind quintets.  Because the players must learn to balance various roles  (1st through 4th horn) as well as address the general issues of intonation, blend, and rhythm common to every chamber music setting, the horn quartet is a great medium for teaching and learning purposes – not to mention lots of fun!  Getting back to the upcoming concert, we will be the featured artists at the Northwestern State University Horn Day (Saturday, February 19th), an annual event organized and hosted by Dr. Coreil. In addition to teaching at universities in Louisiana, Dr. Coreil and I have something else in common as well – we both earned doctoral degrees from UW-Madison.  So far the rehearsals have gone very well, and I’m looking forward to the performance.  Our program will consist of several standards in the repertoire, including Hindemith’s Sonata for Four French Horns, Bozza’s Suite for Four Horns in F, several of Lowell Shaw’s Fripperies, and Kerry Turner’s arrangement of Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro.   I’ve performed almost all of these works before, and working on the parts again in rehearsal and practice has been great fun.  To close out this post I’ve listed, in no particular order, some of my favorite pieces for horn quartet.  They are all original works, and almost all of them have been recorded multiple times.  If you’re looking for horn quartet music this is a great place to start.

Paul Hindemith, Sonata for Four French Horns

Eugène Bozza, Suite for Four Horns in F

Douglas Hill, Shared Reflections

Frigyes Hidas, Chamber Music for Four Horns

Carlos Chávez, Sonata for Four Horns

Jacques-François Gallay, Grand Quartet, Op. 26

Alexander Mitushin, Concertino for Four Horns

Sir Michael Tippett, Sonata for Four Horns

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