Lin Jiang, Shanghai-born but resident in Australia since the age of 5, is a young man with a golden horn. And this fascinating compilation, much of it well off the beaten track, is musical treasure trove for those seeking horn rarities. There’s standard fare such as Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro and Poulenc’s Elegie which he wrote in memory of Dennis Brain.
Ketting’s Intrada does not so much attract the attention as seize it in a vice-like grip with its flawless fanfares and pure, warm tone.
Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sea Eagle, for unaccompanied horn, makes for fascinating listening, its first movement conjuring up images of a young eagle about to make its first solo flight, suggested by what might be thought of as a series of false starts which give way to a swooping motif. Sumptuous tone informs the Lento movement – and in the brief presto finale, Jiang gives us a joyful, even impudent utterance. Trills are near-perfectly spun here. In Schuller’s Nocturne, Jiang’s pure horn sound is complemented by Benjamin Martin’s gently lulling accompaniment at the keyboard.
There’s not a dull moment in Salonen’s Horn Music I in which both musicians are kept very much on their toes. In turn lyrical and virtuosic, this is an important addition to the repertoire; it deserves to be widely heard. Marais’ Le Basque is a folksy delight.
The second movement of Hindemith’s Sonata reveals the composer in insouciant, impish mood, surely a refutation of the silly slander, often advanced, that he is a chronic autumnal drear. Poulenc, on the other hand, is too frequently, and wrongly, dismissed as little more than a lightweight with a sense of humour. Listen to his Elegie with its uncharacteristic dissonances and heavy-toned, funereal quality. This is Poulenc in serious vein – and both musicians are spot-on in their revelation of the music’s dark mood. Jiang and Martin do Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro proud; it’s a joy to hear, not least for the impeccable synchronisation of horn and piano. Martin’s contributions at the keyboard are unfailingly musicianly.
Thaddeus Huang’s Encore, My Good Sir is an eminently listenable, rather lightweight encore-type piece and very effective at that level.
This CD is highly recommended.