A Tuckwell swansong finds the horn player truly rising to the occasion.
Barry Tuckwell's career, as LSO principal horn for 13 years and as the first musician to earn a full-time living as a horn soloist, stretched for more than half a century, and is celebrated elsewhere by two sets of concertante recordings made over the years: an EMI two-CD Gemini collection and a comparable Decca Double.
Just before he retired in 1997, Tuckwell recorded the present programme with Daniel Blumenthal for the Australian Broadcasting Company. He included the comparably familiar and somewhat marmoreal Hindemith F major Sonata (1939) and plays it persuasively, but also provides a recording premiere of a virtually unknownRead more Second Sonata from 1943. This has an appealingly nostalgic opening movement which acts as a brief prelude to the virtuoso Scherzo. Then comes another short lyrical interlude, no less touching, with a surprising hint of folksong in the melodic line, and the work is completed by a brilliant finale with a thrilling piano part, in which bravura and lyrical elements are satisfying combined. This is much more enjoyable work than the F major Sonata, melodically memorable (which is what counts) but also superbly written for both instruments.
The Hindemith sonatas are prefaced here by Moscheles's very personable set of variations on a theme which Rossini wrote for Moscheles's son, Felix, and a most engaging Introduction and Rondo with an even more jaunty principal theme, which is expanded infectiously, rather in the sprightly rhythmic manner of Hummel. The closing work is a large-scale sonata by Rheinberger, framed with heroically dramatic outer movements, both with bold, fanfare-like main themes with appropriately lyrical counterparts, and a gentler, romantic central Quasi adagio. Needless to say, Tuckwell rises to the occasion throughout the programme, as does his excellent partner. The recording is resonant and true, giving the instruments plenty of space and a natural balance.