Encore My Good Sir

01/05/2009
Stephen Eddins
AllMusic Guide (US)

Chinese-Australian hornist Lin Jiang had just finished his undergraduate studies at the University of Melbourne and begun working with Barry Tuckwell when he recorded this diverse selection of works for solo horn or horn and piano, but he plays with the virtuosity, confidence, and nuanced musicality of a seasoned pro. Lin has an irreproachable technique: his tone is warm, round, and burnished, his attacks are immaculate, and he has the agility to make even the most treacherous of these works sound thrillingly spontaneous and practically effortless. The recipient of numerous international honors, he is certainly among the outstanding hornists of his generation. The repertoire for the attractive program recorded here includes both standard works, such as Schumann's Adagio and Allegro, Hindemith's Sonata for Alto Horn and Piano, and Poulenc's El├ęgie, as well as less well-known works, like Gunther Schuller's Nocturne, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Horn Music I, and Peter Maxwell Davies' Sea Eagle, and a newer piece, Thaddeus Huang's Encore, My Good Sir. Lin brings just the right Romantic opulence, yearning, and abandon to the Schumann. In the Poulenc, written in memory of Dennis Brain, he plays the ferocious opening, a cry of rage at the loss of the brilliant hornist in 1957, like he is spitting nails. He pulls off Davies' unaccompanied Sea Eagle, musically and technically the most difficult work on the album, with fearless bravado. Pianist Benjamin Martin provides Lin a responsive and limber accompaniment. The sound is open, spacious, and well-balanced.