Continuing his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill turns to the Cor solo he uses for Saint-Saëns’ Romance Op 67 on his BIS debut recording, with pianist Alasdair Beatson: The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228). Made by Marcel Auguste Raoux in Paris in 1823, Alec compares this solo instrument to the cor d’orchestre he uses for Beethoven’s Horn Sonata Op 17 (see film 1) and offers an insight into practical difficulties in pitching certain notes on the instrument.
At the start of his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill introduces the Cor d’orchestre natural horn made by Lucien Joseph Raoux in Paris c 1800. Alec played this horn on his recording of Beethoven’s Horn Sonata Op 17 for his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228). This is the first of four Insight films, each featuring one of the four horns used for the recording, which were matched with four period pianos, played by Alasdair Beatson.
For his first major project using his BBT Fellowship 2014 money, horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill broke new ground in matching four period horns with four period pianos for his debut recording for BIS. The logistics of getting all eight instruments together in one place for the recording in Cologne in January 2016 was only the start for an invigorating musical voyage of discovery with pianist Alasdair Beatson. Taking its title from a typically astute comment by Hector Berlioz (otherwise not included on the disc), the BIS recording The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228) is out Spring 2017 and BBT filmed Alec and Alasdair as they recorded the disc.
Continuing his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill takes the story on to Vienna, where the pumpenvalve instruments are still used today in the Vienna Philharmonic and Symphony Orchestras. The instrument Alec plays, on his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228), was made by Erste Wiener Productiv-Genossenschaft der Musik-Instrumentenmacher at the end of the 19th century. His chosen repertoire is Franz Strauss’ Nocturno and Schumann’s Romance.
Concluding his 19th-century horn odyssey, Alec Frank-Gemmill turns from Viennese pumpenvalve to the British and French Cor à pistons; in the shape of an early 20th century instrument made by Victor Charles Mahillon, Brussels. Illustrated by excerpts from Dukas’ Villanelle, as featured on his BIS debut disc The Horn is a Noble and Melancholy Instrument (BIS SACD 2228), Alec describes the horn’s versatility in marrying virtuosity when using the pistons and the ability (without pistons) to hark back to the natural horn.
BBT 2014 fellowship winner Alec Frank-Gemmill plays Camille Saint-Saëns’ Morceau de Concert Op. 94 for horn and piano as transcribed and played by harpist Eleanor Johnston at the final BBT Wednesdays at Wilton’s on 24 June 2015.