Friday Review: New Publications from AvA Editions, Little Suites 1, 2, and 3 by Ricardo Matosinhos

avaeditionsRecently I received several new publications from AvA Musical Editions, which specializes in the music of Portuguese composers. Though they aren’t very well known in the United States, AvA has a variety of high quality publications for horn and other brass instruments.

Ricardo Matosinhos, Little Suite Nos. 1-3, for Horn and Piano

I have previously reviewed other publications by Dr. Matosinhos (here and here), and am likewise impressed by these three charming compositions. The composer has recognized and filled a very important need in today’s music for horn: high quality solo music for beginning to intermediate players. Modern horn music has plenty of intermediate to difficult compositions, but it is rare to find well-written material for younger players. One exception to this observation is First Solos for the Horn Player, by Mason Jones (not to be confused with his more popular Solos for the Horn Player), but this collection contains primarily transcriptions, many of which are too difficult for young players. In addition to composing these accessible and artistic solos for horn and piano, Matosinhos has also recorded them and provided excellent annotations such as range requirements and descriptions of each movement.  Here are some brief summaries of each suite, with links to the recording page and more detailed information.

  • Little Suite No. 1: In terms of range and endurance requirements, this is the easiest of the three. However, it has plenty of melodic and rhythmic variety, and even introduces concepts such as asymmetrical meter, the blues scale, and swing rhythms. Approximate duration is 6’15”
  • Little Suite No. 2: Expanding upon the requirements in Little Suite No. 1, the second suite covers a wider range and uses more complex rhythmic and harmonic material. Stopped horn and syncopations abound, and one instance of flutter tonguing is also required. It should be noted that these techniques are rarely taught until much later in a horn player’s education, and it is refreshing to see them incorporated into a piece for intermediate players. Approximate duration is 5’40”
  • Little Suite No. 3: This would be an excellent solo for a talented young student, and would also work quite well as a lighter selection on a recital at the undergraduate level. The high range is utilized more extensively than in the previous two suites, as is fitting for more advanced players.  Approximate duration is 6’16”

This is fun music – composed especially with younger players in mind – yet full of challenges for the student and teacher to navigate together. The piano parts require a competent and sensitive collaborator, but on the whole are quite reasonable. All three works are found on competition lists in Portugal, and it would be wonderful to see them appear on similar lists in the United States.

Review : 12 Jazzy Etudes, 10 Jazzy Etudes, and 15 Low Horn Etudes, by Ricardo Matosinhos

This summer it was my pleasure to carry on some correspondence with Portuguese horn player and teacher Dr. Ricardo Matosinhos. During the course of our discussions, Ricardo was gracious enough to write a review of my new CD, as well as send me copies of his publications 12 Jazzy Etudes for Horn, 10 Jazzy Etudes for Hornand 15 Low Horn EtudesWith these three collections (published by Phoenix Music), Ricardo has created a substantial addition to the etude repertoire, building upon what already exists as well as exploring new territory. He writes the following in the Preface to 12 Jazzy Etudes.

These etudes were written with the aim of filling a gap in the Horn repertoire. Usually advanced etudes for horn are too difficult in many different aspects at once. In these etudes I used different scales and modes with some extended techniques, but always in an easy and funny way; if an etude is difficult or even very difficult in one aspect, it will be easy or even very easy in others. I dedicate these etudes to the Russian horn player Arkady Shilkloper and his music, whose influence will be easily identifiable in some of these etudes.

I have not played through all of the studies in these three collections, but I have played through several, as well as listened to Ricardo’s very fine recordings on his SoundCloud page. He performs his works with style, gusto, and monster technique! It is obvious from his playing that Ricardo has a complete command of the instrument, as well as a solid understanding of the jazz idiom. If you’re on the fence about purchasing any of these books I would start by listening to the recordings – here’s No. 1, “Crazy Steps” from 10 Jazzy Etudes, the second volume of studies.

Catchy, isn’t it?  I have worked on this one a bit, and it is just as fun to play as it is to hear. Overall, the second book of studies is more approachable than the first, especially if you are new to jazz rhythms, jazz articulations, and several kinds of extended techniques. However, if you like challenges, go ahead and dive right into 12 Jazzy Etudes. You’ll find rhythms in the style of Messiaen, tuneful melodies in a variety of modes, and extended techniques like singing, tapping on the bell, microtones, and more! I highly recommend first listening to the recordings and reading the comments and suggestions provided (these are found in all three books). In some ways Ricardo’s music reminds me of Douglas Hill’s jazz-inspired compositions; they are difficult, but well worth the effort it takes to learn them.

15 Low Horn Etudes is the newest of the three, and is dedicated to Sarah Willis, 4th Horn in the Berlin Philharmonic. There are some very fine low horn studies out there – Neuling’s 30 Special Etudes for Low Horn, Marvin McCoy’s 46 Progressive Exercises for Low Horn, Douglas Hill’s Low Range for the Horn Player, and more – and 15 Low Horn Etudes is well deserving of a place among them. They of course emphasize the low register, but also call for extended techniques, lots of flexibility, and the ability to read some complex rhythms. And I would also add that many of the studies in all three books could make very nice unaccompanied works for a recital or other performance.

In closing I also highly recommend Ricardo’s website: he is hosting a competition for performances of his etudes, has compiled an annotated catalog of horn etudes, and recently updated his extensive list of horn theses and dissertations. Well done Ricardo, and keep up the great work!

Review: is an excellent new resource created by Ricardo Matosinhos, a professional horn player and teacher in Portugal. You can read his full bio for more details, but in short Dr. Matosinhos is an experienced player and teacher with a diverse musical background. Among his other horn-related projects are the Horn’s Pocket Guide, a handy reference for horn players of all levels, 12 Jazzy Etudes for Horn, and two more etude collections pending publication.

I’ve spent some time over the last few days perusing, and I can already tell that it will be an invaluable resource for students, teachers, and professional players. According to the description on the home page, is meant to accompany Ricardo’s dissertation, titled Selected and Annotated Bibliography of Horn Etudes Published Between 1950 and 2011. This site takes the form of an interactive database with numerous search options encompassing a substantial catalog of etudes for horn. I should also add that the site is being regularly updated with new additions, which Ricardo posts on the Facebook page. Users can browse through the bibliography alphabetically, or display entries according to publisher, difficulty level, size, and/or country and date of publication. Here’s a screen shot showing one of the entries.


Title and author are listed at the top of the entry, in this case Sixteen Studies for French Horn by Verne Reynolds. This entry caught my eye because I was not aware of another set of etudes by Reynolds in addition to his “great 48,” or 48 Etudes for French Horn. Each entry contains a wealth of information, such as publication date – these studies were actually published after the 48 Etudes – publisher’s website, range, difficulty level, number of etudes, dynamic ranges, extended techniques required, and the average length of each etude. Helpful annotations can also be found at the end of the entry. For these studies, the following explanation for their being little known is provided.

Unlike its [sic] 48 studies, these are written in a tonal language. Having been published only three years after the 48 studies did not have the same acceptance, being now out of print and hard to find.

Though they are out of print, I plan to keep my eyes open for a set of these rare etudes, and I wouldn’t have known about them without the information contained on It’s a great website, and potentially a very powerful tool for research. Congratulations Ricardo, and thank you for providing this resource!

Meditation, Version 2

Thanks to everyone who checked out my arrangement of the “Meditation” from Thaïs, by Jules Massenet.  Shortly after I posted the files, Ricardo Matosinhos, a frequent reader and supporter of my blog, made an excellent suggestion:

A nice addition to the horn repertoire. I would like give a suggestion of transposing the piece 1/2 tone higher. This would become easier to play (specially on B flat horn fingerings). There wouldn’t be the problematic A’s and D’s for tuning. The highest note would be the heroic Bb instead of the A nightmare :)
On most horns the A4 is to high, so that means usually or a missed A or a little bit high. The lowest note would be Eb, also quite easier than D.
Of course, transposing it 1/2 tone higher would change the note color. Instead of the bright D major, we would get a dark Eb major.
So, there’s not a perfect solution for a transcription from different instruments…
Give it a try and see if it works.

I agree with his suggestion, though my main reason for choosing the lower key was where I planned to perform the piece on a recital – at the end!  I was able to deal with most of the intonation issues through alternate fingerings (T3 for A’s and D’s) and the high A at the end felt pretty good fingered open on my horn.  However, I do think Ricardo’s idea is valid, and the transcription would definitely work up a half-step.  In light of this insightful comment, here is Version 2 of the horn and piano parts.  Try them both, and use the one you like best!

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