Recording Review: Solo, J. Bernardo Silva

silvacoverI received this very fine recording several months ago, and have listened to it multiple times. The soloist is Portuguese hornist  J. Bernardo Silva, a member of the Orquestra Sinfónica do Porto Casa da Música, and faculty at Espinho Professional Music School and at the University of Aveiro. Having previously reviewed  a handful of unaccompanied horn recordings (herehere, and here), I think one of the biggest challenges is choosing a program with enough variety to keep the listener interested. In addition, the soloist must play be able with a wide range of colors, dynamics, etc., perhaps even beyond what is necessary  for a horn/piano or chamber music recording. With this disc, Mr. Silva delivers on both counts. The repertoire is a mix of standards and less familiar works.

  • J.S. Bach/ed. Orval, Cello Suite No. 1, BWV 1007
  • Bernhard Krol, Laudatio
  • Sigurd Berge, Hornlokk
  • Charles Koechlin, Monodie, Op. 218bis
  • Trygve Madsen, The Dream of the Rhinoceros
  • Vitaly Buyanovsky, España, from Traveling Impressions
  • Stephen Dodgson, Cor Leonis
  • Gioacchino Rossini/arr. Baumann, Le Rendez-vous de Chasse

Especially interesting are the Koechlin and Dodgson, because of their unfamiliarity. Both date from the 20th century, 1948 and 1990, respectively. The Koechlin is full of bravura writing, particularly in the  upper register, and would be a great addition to a recital program. In contrast, the Dodgson is more atmospheric, though equally effective. Dodgson is perhaps most well known for his guitar compositions, and studied horn at the Royal College of Music in London. For more information, see his obituary in The Guardian, April 2013. Here are some brief excerpts from each work, as found on YouTube.

These relatively obscure works are complemented with several standards from the unaccompanied horn repertoire, performed here with great virtuosity and sensitivity. I am always interested in hearing various interpretations of staples such as Krol’s Laudatio and Buyanovsky’ s España, and these are well worth a listen! Silva plays with a brilliant sound, refined phrasing, and a touch of vibrato. Even if you own several other recordings of the standards found on this disc, it’s worth picking up for the Koechlin and Dodgson alone.

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