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Alec Wilder: Music For Horn & Piano / Tibbetts, Cecchini, Heinzel

Wilder / Tibbetts / Heinzel
Release Date: 01/08/2013 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 1398   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alec Wilder
Performer:  Penelope CecchiniCharles TibbettsWolfgang Heinzel
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WILDER Horn Sonatas Nos. 1 and 3 1. Five Love Songs. John Barrows. Suite for Horn and Piano Charles Tibbetts (hn); 1 Wolfgang Heinzel (pn); Penelope Cecchini (pn) ALBANY 1398 (63: 23)

Here is a thoroughly enjoyable and surprising CD, five works for horn and piano by Alec Wilder, three of which were composed specifically for his friend and colleague John Read more Barrows who was the hornist in the prestigious New York Woodwind Quintet until his untimely death in 1974. A jolly, goodhearted man, Barrows’s personality is well reflected in Wilder’s music, and we are very fortunate in this instance that the soloist on this record, Charles Tibbetts, was one of Barrows’s pupils. He even has a tone similar to Barrows, which pleased me no end, and much of the same elegance in slow movements and joie-de-vivre in fast ones.

Actually, one of the reasons I asked to review this disc was that I confused Wilder’s name in my mind with Alec Templeton, whose Jazz Sonata for Horn and Piano is apparently played by countless college students but has never been recorded, but in the end I was just as pleased if not more so to have this disc. Templeton was, to me, a facile and pop-classical type of composer while Wilder’s music is better crafted and has a more serious mien. Yet having a serious mien doesn’t mean being stuffy. As Tibbetts’s liner notes point out, if you knew John Barrows you almost had to have a sense of humor and a zest for living. Tibbetts recalls when he was still a high school student, coming up on Saturdays for his private lessons, Barrows announced that Wilder would be present the following week to hear them play his duets. Secretly shaking in his boots, Tibbetts’s nervousness was immediately dispelled when he walked into Barrows’s office and found the hornist and the composer laughing uproariously at some joke Tibbetts never found out about. After finishing one duet, Tibbetts somehow got the quirky idea to ask Barrows if they could play the same piece again as if they were both totally drunk. Barrows not only agreed but was delighted with the idea, only suggesting that this time Tibbetts play the lead line and he the second. Again, at the end, there was more laughter, this time from all three of those present.

The other pieces on this disc that were not written for or dedicated to Barrows are the Five Love Songs and, ironically, John Barrows, both of which were written for hornist Morris Secon after Barrows’s death. In these, Tibbetts’s gift for lyricism comes to the fore, and it is obvious that he loves this music. He relates in the notes that Barrows often told him that in a wind ensemble the horn should match the timbre of the other instruments in order to blend more perfectly, and especially that horn playing should “transcend the singing voice, creating what is being reflected in your soul.” Tibbetts believes that these Love Songs may have been started when Barrows was still alive, since they reflect so well the “singing” quality of his playing, and he is equally convinced that John Barrows was an elegy for his then-deceased friend, but he was unable to contact Morris Secon before his death in 2010 to ask about the story behind the piece.

So many of the pieces in the Suite, particularly “Song” and “Epilogue,” are also ear-ravishingly beautiful melodies evidently designed to bring out Barrows’s singing tone, and I was not disappointed by the jazz-like qualities of the last movements of this suite and the Sonata No. 2, though of course all of the music is written out and not improvised. In short, this has to be one of the most delightful CDs I’ve reviewed in a very long time, and I hope that Tibbetts sells out the pressing!

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Suite for Horn and Piano by Alec Wilder
Performer:  Penelope Cecchini (Piano), Charles Tibbetts (Horn)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Sonata for Horn and Piano no 3 by Alec Wilder
Performer:  Charles Tibbetts (Horn), Wolfgang Heinzel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; USA 
Sonata for Horn and Piano no 1 by Alec Wilder
Performer:  Charles Tibbetts (Horn), Wolfgang Heinzel (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; USA 
Love Songs (5) for Horn and Chamber Orchestra by Alec Wilder
Performer:  Penelope Cecchini (Piano), Charles Tibbetts (Horn)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Notes: Version for horn and piano. 
John Barrows by Alec Wilder
Performer:  Penelope Cecchini (Piano), Charles Tibbetts (Horn)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 

Sound Samples

Horn Sonata No. 1: I. Allegro
Horn Sonata No. 1: II. Andante
Horn Sonata No. 1: III. Allegro giocoso
5 Love Songs (version for horn and piano): No. 1. -
5 Love Songs (version for horn and piano): No. 2. -
5 Love Songs (version for horn and piano): No. 3. -
5 Love Songs (version for horn and piano): No. 4. -
5 Love Songs (version for horn and piano): No. 5. -
Horn Sonata No. 3: I. Moderately fast
Horn Sonata No. 3: II. Slowly
Horn Sonata No. 3: III. With a solid beat
Horn Sonata No. 3: IV. Tempo di valse: Joyously
John Barrows: I. -
John Barrows: II. Romantically
John Barrows: III. A piacere
John Barrows: IV. Giocoso easy - playful
Suite for Horn and Piano: I. Danse Quixotic
Suite for Horn and Piano: II. Slow and Sweet
Suite for Horn and Piano: III. Song
Suite for Horn and Piano: IV. Epilogue
Suite for Horn and Piano: V. Suitable for Dancing

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