DIALOGUES EN FRANÇAIS • Bernhard Scully (hn); Joanne Minnetti (pn) • ALBANY 1321 (61:36)
BOZZA En Forêt. GOUNOD 6 Mélodies. FRANÇAIX Canon in Octave. DUKAS Villanelle. POULENC Elegy in Memory of Dennis Brain.Read moreSAINT-SAËNS Morceau de Concert. MARAIS Le Basque
Bernhard Scully is the horn professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a faculty member of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp and the Rafael Mendez Brass Institute as a member of the Summit Brass. He has also been on the faculty of the Music Academy of the West and the Eastman School of Music, and was previously a member of the famed Canadian Brass, with which he gave numerous performances and made many CDs. This appears to be his solo CD debut.
One of the more interesting aspects of this disc is that his accompanist, Joanne Minnetti, is Scully’s mother. On the back cover of the CD booklet, Scully exults that he and his mother “have been making music together for three decades, since I was three years old.” The synergy between them is obvious from the very first selection, the energetic and fascinating En Forêt of Eugène Bozza, with its bravura horn passages and barely contained excitement. Scully’s horn is very well recorded, and he gets a bright, open sound on his instrument, a little rough in timbre on some notes but generally superb. He also has a great low range, which is not common to all horn players.
The leisurely, relaxed, and at times uninteresting Mélodies of Gounod come next. Scully plays them very well, but there’s not much to them as music. These are followed by the humorous Canon in Octave by Françaix, in which the horn trails the piano melody one beat behind. As Scully puts it in the notes, “Just as the listener is becoming accustomed to the wry tightness of the tune, the piece ends.”
Dukas’s famed Villanelle comes next. In one review of a Scully concert, he was described as sounding more like Barry Tuckwell than Dennis Brain, but that may have been due to his great technical command of playing triplets, which was a Tuckwell specialty. Here he sounds very Brain-like, both his tone and phrasing coming very close to the legendary horn player’s famous 1952 recording of this piece with pianist Gerald Moore. Scully further explores the warm yet bright qualities of his predecessor’s style in his version of the Poulenc elegy for Brain. Scully and Minnetti build this performance in such a way that the listener is completely drawn in and almost forced to participate in the ongoing musical drama. The sad ending, formed as a 12-tone row, nevertheless manages to end on a tonic note.
Scully also gives us a warm, relaxed performance of Saint-Saëns’s Morceau de Concert, a much more interesting composition than the Gounod suite. Then, almost as an encore, he plays Marin Marais’s famous Le Basque, which was also a famous showpiece for Dennis Brain, and his version is very nearly as good as his model’s.
I am completely enchanted with Scully’s CD recital, and I think you will be, too. This one is a winner.
Family FunAugust 30, 2016By B. Dell (Dubois, IN)See All My Reviews"First of all, the music itself is interesting and quite beautiful. Scully has a wonderful, rich sound from top to bottom of this instrument. (I played horn so can appreciate his fantastic talent.) Mom Minnetti can't help but be proud to accompany her son. It sounds like they made some hard work into great fun. Thoroughly enjoyable in all aspects! The "encore" piece is absolutely charming, short and sweet, leaving you with a smile."Report Abuse