I have lots of horn recordings, but many of them fall into the category of “reference.” I don’t listen to them regularly, but nonetheless am glad to have these recordings in my library. However, there are others which are really fun to hear over and over, and probably belong more in the “popular” category. Some that immediately come to mind are CDs by the Vienna Horns and the London Horn Sound. For solo horn recordings, here are some of my favorites. You won’t find Schumman’s Adagio and Allegro or Mozart’s concertos on these, but in their own way they are every bit as musically satisfying. If you’ve got some extra money (or an Amazon or iTunes giftcard) burning a hole in your pocket, check out one or more of these.
- Tim Thorpe, Midsummer: Tim Thorpe is Principal Horn in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and according to his bio “is currently the youngest Principal Horn in any of the UK’s major orchestras.” He is also featured on the IHS website as part of a 2010 Survey of European Horn Playing Styles, conducted by Dan Phillips. His recording consists entirely of arrangements for solo horn and chamber ensemble, with styles ranging from Mendelssohn’s Nocturne from A Midsummer Night’s Dream to Piazzola’s Five Tango Sensations. Thorpe plays everything with a big, vibrant sound and effortless technique, one of the hallmarks of British horn playing.
- Dave Lee, Under the Influence: I first heard about Dave Lee through reading A Devil to Play by Jasper Rees. Not being familiar with his name, I checked out his recording (cover image at top left) and was very impressed. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe Under the Influence, as it brings together music from David Bowie, Arvo Pärt, and Billy Strayhorn. There is also a nod to the classical world with the inclusion of Sea Eagle, by Peter Maxwell-Davies. This is a very unique recording!
- Barry Tuckwell with The Tony Gould Trio, The Very Thought of You: Not much needs to be said here – Tuckwell’s legendary sound lends itself quite well to these tunes, and this is a great album for just kicking back and immersing yourself in the sound of he horn. There aren’t any technical fireworks, just gorgeous sounds and sensitive phrasing.
Do you have a favorite horn recording of popular tunes? Let me know!