SONGS OF LOVE, WAR & MELANCHOLY
The operatic fantasias of Jacques-François GALLAY.
Historic Brass Society, December 2015
Anneke Scott, Songs of Love, War and Melancholy: The Operatic Fantasies of Jacques-François Gallay, Resonus Classics (RES10153), 2015. www.resonusclassics.com
"Gallay’s fantasies on the operatic favorites of his day should be essential repertoire for any student of the horn. The intense vocal quality of the melodic lines contained in these fantasies is better than any of the vocalise studies I have played, even those of Giuseppe Concone. Certainly, the fact that these fantasies were composed by an expert hornist contributes to their superiority. But these fantasies also contain some of the most naturally “vocal” lines I have ever heard composed for the horn. Perhaps I am biased being a fan of the Italian repertoire, but other horn players will be hard pressed to disparage the quality of Gallay’s writing in these fantasies.
In this recording, Anneke Scott’s playing is exquisite. Her tone quality, expertly executed ornamentations, and agile hand-stopping technique make these performances truly remarkable. The piano playing by Steven Devine is perfectly balanced to Scott’s horn and together they produce hair-raising dynamic contrasts and bombastic finishes. Lucy Crowe’s voice is perfectly suited to the bel canto style of these settings and together with Scott’s horn the listener is treated to some fine duets between the soprano and the horn.
The fantasies Gallay composed that are represented on this recording are based material composed by the top Italian composers of the day: Bellini, Donizetti, and Mercadante. Gallay was the solo horn of the Théâtre Italien, beginning in 1825. The repertoire he played during his tenure there understandably became the inspiration for these wonderful compositions.
This recording includes extensive liner notes that are both enlightening and well written (they are downloadable by following the publisher’s link above). The importance of these fantasies as part of Gallay’s repertoire is discussed at length in the liner notes, along with the social and performance contexts in which these pieces would have been heard. Scott has dedicated a great deal of time in recent years to recording the music of Gallay. The liner notes she has written for this recording display her immense respect for the music, Gallay, and her world-class scholarship."
La Revue du Corniste, November 2015
Songs of Love, War and Melancholy : The Operatic Fantasias of Jacques-François Gallay.
Par Anneke Scott, cor naturel ; Lucy Crowe, soprano ; Steven Devine, piano. CD Resonus RES10153.
"Ceux qui aiment la virtuosité seont servis avec cd CD ! Accompagnée par un partenaire pianiste à sa hauteur, Anneke Scott nous offre là un récital de haute voltige, maîtrisant toutes les difficultés techniques du cor à main avec une grande maestria et un sens musical sûr. Si vous appréciez la musique d'opéra du milieu du XIXème siècle alors ce CD sera un petit bijou. Dans ces trois mélodies et ces six fantaisies brillantes entrecoupées de cadences sur des airs d'opéras à la mode parisienne, Gallay développe tout son art de la virtuosité et du bel canto Italien en artiste lyrique au sommet de son art. Spécialiste de ce répertoire Anneke Scott nous fait découvrir toutes les subtilités de cette musique raffinée."
"Those who love virtuosity will be well served with this CD! Partnered by a pianist of the same level, Anneke Scott offers us a high-flying recital - mistress of all the technical difficulties of the hand horn and displaying great mastery and sure musicianship. If you enjoy operatic music of the mid-nineteenth century, this CD will prove to be a gem. In these three Mélodies and six brilliant Fantaisies, interspersed with cadenzas on opera arias in the Parisian fashion, Gallay displayed his own virtuosity and that of the Italian bel canto opera singer at the summit of his art. Anneke Scott, a specialist in this repertoire reveals all the subtleties of this refined music."
Horn Matters, 30th of July
Brief reviews: Recent recordings by Anneke Scott, natural and piston horns
Getting it out right away, I love these recordings and basically everything about them. The performances are excellent, production and packaging excellent, and that they are mostly recordings of works that are pretty much not known today that deserve to be better known is also outstanding.
The CD is titled Songs of Love, War, and Melancholy, the operatic fantasias of Jacques-François Gallay. Gallay is best known to horn players today for his etudes and unmeasured preludes, but he composed and arranged a great deal of music for a variety of ensembles. This recording features full fantasias on themes of operas (mostly Donizetti and Bellini) performed by horn and piano, and also three shorter numbers with soprano. A great recording that will be perfect for anyone to reference who is thinking of performing one of these fantasias today, but also just great background listening music as well.
Horn players with an interest in opera or Gallay certainly will want to obtain this CD.
Planet Hugill - 27th of July
Dazzling technique, bags of charm - Songs of Love, War and Melancholy
Jacques-Francois Gallay operatic fantasies; Anneke Scott, Lucy Crowe, Stephen Devine; Resonus Classics
Bravura techniques galore in this disc of early 19th century music for natural horn
Whilst it is possible to imagine this music played on a modern valve horn, to hear it on such a period instrument is a revelation particularly in the hands of a player like Anneke Scott who seems to revel in the challenges which that hand-horn techniques bring. This is real virtuoso stuff and throughout the disc her playing sparkles and she brings the right sort of virtuoso brilliance to the music. Gallay's compositions are not the most sophisticated, but they have great charm yet rely on the performer's secure technique to bring them off. Here Anneke Scott and Stephen Devine dazzle and charm in just the right way. But there is a strength and a boldness to the playing too, with Anneke Scott bringing a real muscularity to the solo line.
I loved this disc, and the friend I played it to enjoyed it enormously too. Partly this is because we were simply dazzled by Anneke Scott's bravura control of a virtuoso technique, of a style which had long ago fallen out of consideration.
Classical CD Reviews, July 2015
"Songs of Love, War and Melancholy brings us forward a generation, at least in terms of the music being transcribed, with concert paraphrases by Gallay of early Romantic Italian operas by Donizetti and Bellini. Anneke Scott is accompanied by Steven Devine at the piano, an Èrard from 1851. Several of the numbers also include soprano Lucy Crowe, on emotive and impressively operatic form, although Gallay is always careful to maintain a dominant position for the horn, so these tend to be duets among equals.
The best-known music here, at least to me, is Bellini’s La Sonambula. That transcription has some satisfyingly low music – it is so rare to hear the lower register of the horn in early showpieces like these, but Anneke’s sound down there is rich and characterful. Elsewhere, there are plenty of pyrotechnics: fast runs, big leaps, searing melodies. No detachable valve section this time, it’s all done on the face and with hand stopping, and is all the more impressive for it."
Early Music Review, 1st of July 2015
The operatic fantasies of Jacques-François Gallay
Anneke Scott natural horn, Steven Devine piano [Erard 1851],
Lucy Crowe soprano
This is one of two discs this month of which I have to say, ‘This is the most enormous fun’. It is the third of three recitals of Gallay’s music which Anneke Scott has recorded with support from the Gerald Finzi Trust and when I’ve finished writing this I’m going to order the other two. In the 1830s and 1840s Gallay was essentially Mr Horn in Paris, taking the technique of hand-horn playing to frankly unimaginable and barely practical heights – this repertoire would be still be hard with the full panoply of modern valves on the instrument.
But Anneke Scott is equal to it all – bravura does not even begin to describe her playing. The music is based on material from operas by Bellini and Donizetti which Gallay would have played in his position as solo horn of the Théâtre Italien, and is a mixture of moreorless straight transcription and more free treatments. Although her French diction is not of the very best, the three items in which Lucy Crowe joins add another dimension to the listener’s pleasure – the soprano/horn duet cadenza on track 3 is delicious. The booklet is excellent but in English only – German and French speakers must download from the Resonus website. And I must not fail to mention Steven Devine’s playing (on an 1851 Érard) of the quasi-orchestral piano parts – a masterly blend of élan and deference. Time to go shopping. I enjoyed this – a lot.
HORNWORLD • June 29, 2015
Review: Songs of Love, War and Melancholy
I recently received two wonderful new discs for review from Anneke Scott, a phenomenal performer on both natural and valved horns. Scott serves as principal horn of the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and The English Baroque Soloists, and also performs frequently as a soloist and chamber musician. In addition to her busy performing schedule, she has also found the time to record several albums of music by the great 19th-century horn virtuoso Jacques-François Gallay. The third and final volume in this series is titled Songs of Love, War and Melancholy: The operatic fantasias of Jacques-François Gallay. As in her earlier Gallay recordings, Scott’s natural-horn playing is expressive, athletic, and robust; in short, very impressive! She negotiates even the most difficult passages on the natural horn with beguiling ease. The selections on this disc belong to a repertoire that was extremely popular during Gallay’s day, but is less known to modern horn players. I’ll close with a general statement about Scott’s natural horn playing, which incorporates lots of different colors and expressive contrasts. There are varying schools of thought regarding hand horn technique, one of which emphasizes absolute evenness and consistency of sound between stopped and open notes. While there is merit to this approach, I personally enjoy hearing a difference in stopped and open timbres, especially when in the hands of a consummate musician like Anneke Scott. When performed tastefully, these contrasts add an elusive, but very important, quality to the music of that era. As a primarily modern (valved) horn player, I have been inspired by these recordings to strive for more expression and timbral variations in my own playing. I think you will as well!"
Early Music Reviews - 1st of June, 2015
"Gallay was performing and composing at a time when the natural horn was beginning to be overtaken by the valve-horn, although in France the progress of the newer horn was delayed by the extraordinary hand techniques developed by natural horn players. The latter is very evident in the outstanding performance here by Anneke Scott, one of the leading natural horn players around today. She produces some wonderfully plangent tone colours resulting from the technique of tuning and pitching notes by using her hand in the bell of the horn. Although the tone of any valve horn inevitably varies between notes, Anneke Scott manages to achieve impeccable tuning. Her playing, and that of Stephen Devine, has a natural musicality that is particularly noticeable in the way they both apply an easy flexibility to the flow of the music. Soprano Lucy Crowe’s three contributions are similarly noteworthy.
The performers’ choice of instruments is particularly apt; Anneke Scott plays an 1823 Marcel-Auguste Raoux natural horn dating from 1823 (from Oxford University’s Bate Collection), a very similar instrument to Gallay’s own 1821 Raoux horn, now in the Paris Conservatoire. Steven Devine plays an 1851 Érard grand piano loaned by the University of Birmingham, where this recording was made.
Even if you are not a lover of the operas of Bellini and Donizetti, these transformations into delightful and dramatic pieces for saloon and soirée are well worth exploring."
The Horn Player Magazine, Spring 2015
This is the third CD of the music of Jacques-François Gallay that Anneke has given us - a rich recompense to the Gerald Finzi Trust who made her an award for the study of Gallay manuscripts in Paris some five years ago. Prior to this recording she presented us with his works for horn alone (Préludes, Caprices and Fantaisies) [RES10114] and the Grand Trios Op. 24 with the Quartet for horns in different crooks Op. 26 [RES10123]. I caught the tail end of Anneke’s launch concert for this disc at the Royal Academy of Music. What immediately struck me, as a mere ‘rude mechanical’ when it comes to hand-horn playing – an orchestrale in Italian parlance – is that Anneke is raising the natural horn out of the arena of ‘yes-very-interesting-but-a-poor-relation-to-the-proper-valve-horn’ into the soft, sunlit uplands of being the beautifully expressive instrument many of us knew it could be. Who, from my generation – that, for decades, only ever had Aubrey Brain’s Brahms trio and Dennis’s Mozarts, Strauss and Hindemith, would ever have dreamed that within a twelvemonth not one, but two, superlative (British) Mozart concerto sets would appear – and made on the instrument for which they were composed? Truly, we are living in an astonishingly rich era of horn recording and progress.
Anneke’s technique is faultless: the problems inherent on the valveless instrument - of intonation and articulation – she floats above – like the lightest soufflé. And her musicality is impeccable. This is a disc you can just stick into the unit and ENJOY. Gallay was a fabled player but his own music could never be said to be in the same league as the great composers of his era – roughly speaking mid 1820s – mid 1840s. So when, as on this disc, he uses the music of his Italian contemporaries – rattlingly good bel canto tunes – we are in for a treat. There are nine tracks, five of which are based on Donizetti’s music, of which the most famous is his opera l’Elisir d’amore (tracks 6 and 7).The first track is a Fantaisie on his first French opera Les Martyrs – not one many of us would have heard of these days: the second, a Fantaisie on a cavatina from Belisario immediately rang my bells (my orchestra recorded Belisario a couple of years ago) and the tune is a real ‘earworm’.
Tracks 4, 5 and 8 are based on music by Bellini – respectively his Bianca e Fernando, then his much better known operas La Sonnambula and Norma. As if all these pleasures were insufficient, Anneke has prevailed upon the superb soprano, Lucy Crowe, to join her and Steven Devine (who, throughout, provides beautifully sensitive accompaniment) in three of Gallay’s settings of arias from Italian opera for voice, horn and piano: Una furtive lagrima from L’Elisir d’amore, Fuis, laisse-moi from Robert Devereux and, of interest to horn players, since he composed duets, a trio and quartet as well as a concerto for our instrument, Saverio Mercadante’s Alla Caccia from his Serate Italiane.
Anneke uses an 1823 Marcel-Auguste Raoux cor solo generously loaned to her by the Bate Collection of Oxford University: the piano used is an Érard, dating from 1851, in the possession of Birmingham University. All in all, everything on this disc marries perfectly – superb research, with supreme artistry, on the best instruments of the period in which the music was composed.