Schumann, Strauss, Hindemith, Nielsen & Berge

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Hindemith,Nielsen & Berge,Schumann,Strauss
WORKS: Works by Schumann, Strauss, Hindemith, Nielsen & Berge
PERFORMER: Kjell-Erik Arnesen (horn), Jørgen Larsen (piano)
Kjell-Erik Arnesen is co-principal horn in the Oslo PO; he’s an unfussy player with a clean, focused sound. In Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro I wish he’d go a bit more over the top, in terms of warmth of vibrato in the first movement and sheer panache in the second. But he’s unfailingly musical, with phrasing which never sounds hurried, and breath control which allows the long line, a quality which also informs the youthful Strauss’s Andante, though here, too, there’s a feeling of emotional reticence. Both players are more at home with the less Romantic style of the Hindemith Horn Sonata, where the rhythms are pointed in the faster music, and the cool neo-classicism of the central movement is reflected with crystalline clarity. Nielsen’s Canto serioso, written as a test piece for potential players in the Royal Danish Orchestra, uses the lower register of the horn, and its sombreness is echoed in the playing. The best performance comes last: Sigurd Berge’s unaccompanied Horn-lokk, a folk-based piece, which runs the gamut of sonorities over the full range of the instrument, with effective use of muted passages and trills, expertly realised by Arnesen. And no matter that the ghost of Mahler sometimes seems to hover in the background. Martin Cotton