Publications Editor, The International Horn Society
Bruno Schneider can not have been a better Symposium host. Rosie De Pietro and her son Yann were heroic in their efforts to help each of the participants. The attendance figures have not been advertised but there must have been 300-400 hornists – the concert hall was packed for many of the events and the photos of the Banquet show a large crowd!
Bruno Schneider had two musical themes running through the week that may or may not have been apparent to the participants: music from the pen of Swiss composers and music written for or influenced by Dennis Brain, celebrating the 50th anniversary of his death. With all due respect to the Swiss, who are known for their banking, political neutrality, chocolate, watch-making, and alphorns, Swiss composers have not made a mark on the horn repertoire. While I sympathized with those performers saddled with a Swiss work destined or redestined for obscurity, the performances were universally superb.
Musical highlights of the Symposium included Peter Damm’s perhaps final performance as a horn soloist – a poetic rendition (at age 70) of Romance, op. 36 by Saint-Saëns, Souvenir à Dresde by Eisner, and Andante by Richard Strauss. This was performed in the middle of a Sunday evening Advisory Council horn ensemble performance, conducted by Damm and featuring his transciptions.
Monday evening we were dazzled by the Berlin Philharmonic horn section (Radek Baborak, Stefan Dohr, Stefan de Leval Jezierski, Norbert Hauptmann, Fergus McWilliam, Georg Schreckenberger, Klaus Wallendorf, and Sarah Willis), performing original works and transcriptions. We heard fantastic tone, range, technique, and accuracy, delivered with a dose of verbal humor throughout. The line for CD signing after the concert was long!
Tuesday evening we heard Jean Pierre Berry, Szabolcs Zempleni, Samuel Seidenberg, and Frank Lloyd. I could not say which of these performances I enjoyed the most: Berry’s fluency, Zempleni’s literature and impeccable playing, Seidenberg’s beautiful sound, or Lloyd’s unbelievable technique.
On Wednesday evening hornists performed with the excellent string quartet Sine Nomine. We heard stunning performances of Mozart’s Quintet (Eliz Erkalp), Meier’s Cordono (Ivo Gass), an anonymous baroque quartet (Bruno Schneider), and Beethoven’s Sextet (Eliz Erkalp and Esa Tapani)Thursday was “Natural Horn day” and the evening recital was interesting. Thomas Müller, Claude Maury, and Teunis van der Zwart performed before intermission. Although their literature was not extremely interesting, and the hand horn tended to sound “far away,” the three were very accurate and musical. After intermission we were treated to a “unique” performance of the Brahms Trio with Javier Bonet on hand horn. The audience heard three talented musicians playing different versions of the same work roughly at the same time.
Friday evening was all about horn concerti as accompanied by the Neuchátel Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Jan Schultsz – kudos to both for doing a splendid job on some very difficult music! Peter Kurau, Ivo Gass, Frank Lloyd, and Samuel Seidenberg offered first-class performances of, respectively, Chabrier’s Larghetto, Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto No. 2, Hindemith’s Concerto, and the orchestral version of Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro. Louis Philippe Marsolais, however, stole the show with a memorized, flawless Schoeck Concert
Saturday, the final day of the Symposium, was dedicated to the alphorn. We traveled to another town by train to a large open-air venue. An alphorn work, composed and conducted by Bruno Schneider, was performed in F at the beginning of the performance, then F# at the end! In the middle we heard an interesting alphorn and shell work with Nozomu Segawa and Javier Bonet, an alphorn and accordion duo with some fascinating works, and Arkady Schikloper perform alphorn “jazz” with a group of accompanying hornists.
The final concert included a performance by the voice/accordion and alphorn Duo Stimmhorn. It was quite unbelievable – during a thoroughly engrossing performance we heard vocal multiphonics from the accordionist and perfect circular breathing from the alphornist! After intermission the Neuchátel Wind Band accompanied various soloists as mentioned above. Although the horn playing highlights had been heard earlier in the week, it was nice to conclude the Symposium on a light-hearted Swiss note!