Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Haydn, Ibert, Milhaud, etc

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beethoven,etc,Haydn,Ibert,Milhaud,Mozart,Schubert
LABELS: BBC Legends
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Dennis Brain
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Dennis Brain (horn), etc; Dennis Brain Wind Quintet, etc
CATALOGUE NO: BBCL 4066-2 ADD mono
Goose flesh sets in just moments after the beginning of Beethoven’s Sextet, Op. 81b, as one suddenly suspects being in the presence of a god. Dennis Brain dispatches tricky moments like the high, rapid, arching phrase at 0:32 with such calm elegance that the character of this normally showy work is thoroughly transformed. While his colleagues play well, Brain transcends conventional standards; the difference between excellence and greatness can hardly be more vividly demonstrated. Other spectacular passages occur in Schubert’s ‘Auf dem Strom’ (passionately and plangently sung by Peter Pears) – the introduction contains a phrase which Brain effortlessly delivers in one breath when most mortals require two or three – and Arnold Cooke’s obsessive Arioso and Scherzo, which Brain invests with confident verve. On the other hand, this performance of the Haydn Concerto is uncharacteristically one-dimensional and ill-tuned by Brain’s standards, and quintets by Ibert and Milhaud don’t give him much scope for magic, but Brain’s demonstration of three different instruments (including hose pipe!) should be heard for a disarmingly unaffected rendition of the prologue from Britten’s Serenade played on an early 19th-century horn. Fortunately these performances surmount the variable and generally undistinguished recorded sound in which they are enshrined. David Breckbill

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