Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Ulmian Tr (period instruments)
NCA 60180 (2 Hybrid multichannel SACDs: 91:58)
Christian Dickhut—please pronounce that last
name the German way, not American style, which conjures up images of frat boys in thatched beach houses—was dimly remembered in the first few decades following his 1829 death as a horn and guitar virtuoso who had played in the Mannheim orchestra. By the 20th century, he had receded into musicological oblivion. On the evidence of the hour-and-a-half of music on these two discs, that oblivion is undeserved. Dickhut was no neglected genius, but these are charming, light pieces for flute, horn, and guitar, whose unusual mélange of sonorities is surprisingly attractive. If you know the serenades that Hummel wrote around the same time, borrowing popular opera tunes of the day and scoring them for violin, clarinet, bassoon, guitar, and keyboard, that means two things. First, you are already familiar with the spirit of these smaller-scaled Dickhut pieces; second, if you know the Hummel, you’re the sort of listener who should also be interested in Dickhut. As for the guitar writing, think in terms of Carulli, and sometimes maybe Giuliani.
These works fall into any number of movements: three for the Trio, four for the op. 3 and 4 Serenades, and six for the remaining Serenade, op. 1. The flute tends to take the melodic lead, with the horn responding, while the guitar is limited to accompaniment. The opening movements of the op. 3 and 4 Serenades, approaching nine minutes, seem slightly overextended, but otherwise these works are beyond criticism as light entertainment, characteristic of their period.
The Ulmian Trio is a German period-instrument ensemble, employing the natural (valveless) horn. These instruments have mellow tones that work well together and fall easily on the ear, and the players put the music across with evident affection. The DSD recorded sound is entirely natural and flattering. It’s too bad that each disc is about half an hour shy of fullness, but 45 minutes at a time is probably about as long as you’d be able to enjoy such material. If you’re interested in the period’s sub-Beethoven figures, by all means investigate Christian Dickhut.
FANFARE: James Reel
Works on This Recording
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