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Arnold • Gipps • Schönberger: Horn Concertos

Ben Goldscheider (horn); Philharmonia Orchestra/Lee Reynolds (Willowhayne)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Arnold • Gipps • Schönberger
Malcolm Arnold: Horn Concerto No. 2; Ruth Gipps: Horn Concerto; Christoph Schönberger: Horn Concerto
Ben Goldscheider (horn); Philharmonia Orchestra/Lee Reynolds
Willowhayne WHR068   62:18 mins


As an 18-year-old, Ben Goldscheider displayed considerable stamina when he reached the finals of the 2016 BBC Young Musician of the Year competition while in the midst of revising for his exams. It was good training for the career of a horn player, daily faced with an instrument that without skill and determination can easily prove treacherous. You know you’re in safe hands from Goldscheider’s assertive first notes in Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto No. 2, and his richly varied tones, from mellifluous to the almost rude, prove a joy on this well-recorded album.

Some of the music is a joy, too, with Arnold’s compact creation from 1956 – by turns thrusting, singing and mysteriously eerie – only dropping in quality in the slightly rudimentary finale. Though equally mercurial, Ruth Gipps’s concerto (1968) is also well-knitted. Blessed with inventive orchestral textures, it allows the Philharmonia and conductor Lee Reynolds plenty of chances to strut their stuff, though the recording balance sensibly places the soloist, often burbling away like a coffee percolator, always an inch ahead.

Both works prove excellent examples of post-war composers in Britain who, in Goldscheider’s words, worked ‘against the grain of musical fashion’ and refused to kiss tonality goodbye. Alas, the tonal concerto written for Goldscheider by the German-born and UK-based Christoph Schönberger isn’t in the same class. Almost as long as the other pieces combined, it limps along through decorative treatments of feeble material, often awkwardly stitched together. This is an extra reason for listeners to be grateful for Goldscheider’s golden horn.

Geoff Brown

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