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Horovitz: Four Concertos / Horovitz, Cross, Mead, Et Al

Release Date: 11/13/2007 
Label:  Dutton Laboratories/Vocalion   Catalog #: 7188   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  Steven MeadFiona CrossAndrew HaveronDavid Owen Norris
Conductor:  Joseph Horovitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

HOROVITZ Clarinet Concerto. Euphonium Concerto. Violin Concerto. Jazz Concerto 1 ? Joseph Horovitz, cond; Fiona Cross (cl); Steven Mead (euphonium); Andrew Haveron (vn); David Owen Norris (pn) 1 ? DUTTON 7188 (74:41)

Joseph Horovitz (b. 1926) has played a unique and unusual role in British music. A native of Vienna, he arrived in England at age 12 and was completely assimilated into the local Read more idiom after his studies with Gordon Jacob, whom he succeeded years later at the Royal College of Music. Over the past half century or more he has been affiliated with various opera and dance companies, which would account for his penchant towards the theatrically utilitarian, such as the Alice in Wonderland ballet and the cantata Captain Noah and His Floating Zoo (reissued by Dutton), for many of which he has received numerous awards. In addition to television scores and works for brass band, Horovitz has to date written nine concertos (mostly with string orchestra), four of which are featured—two as first recordings—on this enterprising Dutton release. Two others—for trumpet and oboe—were included on an ASV release of several years ago.

The Clarinet Concerto of 1948–1956, written for Gervase de Peyer, which opens this program, is an immediately engaging piece showing how even back in his mid-twenties Horovitz had completely absorbed the forthright, tunefully neo-Classic manner of his teacher. There is absolutely nothing in this delightful work that comes between the listener and the matter at hand; instant communication, as well as gratification, is at once achieved.

The Euphonium Concerto is a much later work of 1972. This mellifluous and well-proportioned work has become a staple of the brass band repertoire throughout the English-speaking world; it is an outright gift to all players and lovers of this relatively novel instrument that sounds like a blend of saxophone and trombone. This may be its first recording in the version for chamber orchestra instead of brass band.

Next at hand is another early concerto, the 1949–50 work for violin, which was written while Horovitz was a pupil of Nadia Boulanger and perhaps reflects her influence with its somewhat more intellectual superstructure. The writing at first seems to have more polyphonic intricacy and emotional depth than one normally encounters in his music but eventually his lyrical spontaneity and uncomplicated personality take over.

Closing the program is no doubt the pièce de résistance— the 1965 Jazz Concerto for piano, strings and percussion, which was originally conceived for harpsichord and caused quite a stir when it was premiered by the Bach specialist George Malcolm. This concerto grosso-type work for a trio of keyboard, bass, and drums playing against the string ensemble and making use of rhythmic and harmonic elements from the world of jazz is a unique phenomenon and deserves its considerable popularity.

All four soloists are first-class (though the violinist could have been a bit more incisive), and the composer elicits effective and idiomatic readings from everybody concerned, while Dutton’s signature acoustic is on full display. This is a release designated purely for auditory enjoyment, and those who prefer to suffer as they listen will know enough to stay away.

FANFARE: Paul A. Snook
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Works on This Recording

Concerto for Euphonium by Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  Steven Mead (Euphonium)
Conductor:  Joseph Horovitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1972; England 
Concerto for Clarinet by Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  Fiona Cross (Clarinet)
Conductor:  Joseph Horovitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1948-1956 
Concerto for Violin by Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  Andrew Haveron (Violin)
Conductor:  Joseph Horovitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949-1950 
Jazz Concerto by Joseph Horovitz
Performer:  David Owen Norris (Piano)
Conductor:  Joseph Horovitz
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Ballet Sinfonia
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965 

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