Kicking off the Friday review series for 2014 is Operatic Horn, a wonderful resource for horn ensemble arrangements (logo at left linked from the Operatic Horn website). The arrangements are by Davide Fanchin, hornist in the Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatàn. In a relatively short amount of time, Davide has put together an impressive collection of arrangements for groups of 4, 5, 6, and 8 horns. As the title of his website and publishing company suggest, many of the arrangements are drawn from the operatic repertoire, including famous excerpts from Tosca, Don Carlo, Cavalleria Rusticana, Rigoletto, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Turandot, Das Rheingold, Carmen, Hansel und Gretel, and West Side Story. The repertoire goes beyond opera, though, with titles ranging from Bach Chorales to the theme from Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers game.
Although I’ve not looked at everything in his library, I’ve purchased and used several arrangements for student quartets, and am planning to program a handful of larger ensemble works this year in the Northeast Louisiana Horn Ensemble. Mr. Fanchin is a skilled and creative arranger, and his settings certainly capture the character and spirit of the original works, without being unnecessarily difficult. Having done some arranging myself, I think that one of the hardest things about it is deciding what to leave out. Omit too much and the arrangement doesn’t really work; try to include every note, and it becomes very difficult, if not unplayable. The Operatic Horn arrangements I’ve seen strike an excellent balance between these two extremes, and on top of that they’re just plain fun! Whether you’re a member of a horn quartet, or a conductor of a large horn ensemble, it’s worth your time to check out these arrangements. They are organized in various ways, and the store can be browsed according to the size of the ensemble or the series (Opera, Sacred, Popular, Student).
Another obvious strength of Operatic Horn is Mr. Fanchin’s keen eye for marketing. The website and online store – created by the owner, I presume – are aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate, and the ordering process is very simple. The engraving on the parts and scores is clear, and looks great when printed. So far I haven’t experienced any issues with paying for arrangements and subsequently downloading the files from the provided URL. In fact, I’ve had far more problems purchasing digital print editions from larger, big name publishers. My only criticism of the online store is that it would be nice to have access to a brief sample page from a score before purchasing it. This is a very minor issue, though, on an otherwise fantastic site. In addition, Operatic Horn has a Facebook page, YouTube channel, and even a newsletter! Bravo to Davide for his hard work – looking forward to more of your arrangements!