On March 27, the London Philharmonic Orchestra will be premiering Collage: A Concerto for Four Horns and Orchestra, written by James Horner (composer for many movie soundtracks, including: Field of Dreams, Cocoon, Titanic, Braveheart, The Mask of Zorro, Avatar) and funded in part by the International Horn Society's Major Commission Initiative. We're excited to hear the new work and will be bringing you more information after its premier, directly from the members of the quartet: David Pyatt, John Ryan, James Thatcher, and Richard Watkins. To purchase tickets and see more about attending this concert go directly to the LPO website: http://www.lpo.org.uk/whats-on-and-tickets/258-evocative-russian-classics.html
"I have known three of this evening’s four soloists for the last 20 or so years of my professional life as a film composer. Jim Thatcher was the principal horn on one of my first major films, Cocoon. David Pyatt and Richard Watkins have each served as principal horn on so many of my films that I’ve lost track! It was always a dream of mine to assemble this group of brilliant soloists in one room and have them play on a film score. We’d been discussing this for quite awhile when fate intervened and David ‘officially’ asked me to write a four-horn concerto using the above-mentioned players. I jumped at the chance and the piece you will hear tonight is the fruit of that labour. I’d like to express my deepest thanks to Jim Thatcher, David Pyatt, Richard Watkins, to our brilliant fourth soloist, John Ryan, to Jaime Martín and to all the members of the wonderful London Philharmonic Orchestra for making this premiere happen… a dream come true!"
Program notes below provided by Gavin Plumley (www.gavinplumley.com)
‘Horns,’ wrote Richard Strauss, ‘are always a yardstick of heroism’. Having been the musical rallying cry of countless huntsmen, warriors and, of course, Wagner’s Siegfried, the instrument also offers an appealing mellifluousness to complement its innate bravura. It has logically become one of the principal characters in the scoring of films and although Oscar® and Grammy Award-winner James Horner is known for his use of more recent technological advances, the ever-versatile horn is a prominent feature within his soundtracks.
Horner’s Collage, continuing a series of concert works from the 1970s to the present day, begins in dreamy tones. Each of the four soloists states a hopeful theme, overlapping, as if in an echo chamber, and creating tender harmonic clashes. Muted strings and tuned percussion pick up this material, which moves swiftly onwards with minimalist-like whirlings from two harps and two pianos towards a soft but anchoring tonic pedal. The four horns enter again, now in different groupings, with variations of the work’s initial motifs, mirrored by the trumpets and bells. The insistence on the home key of D major creates a feeling of stability, though that is soon disrupted by a modulation to B major (another significant tonal centre within the Concerto). The thematic material passes to the woodwind, before coming back to the horns, sounding in chorale-like unity with the lower brass.
A più mosso section, building from a hushed dynamic, low in the orchestra, vividly pits the woodwind, harps, pianos and timpani against an eerie wash of crotales (a kind of tuned cymbal), string harmonics and spinning trumpet semiquavers. These juxtapositions trigger a more variegated harmonic palette and when the opening theme returns it is coloured by a sharpened fourth, as described by the four horns in turn. The reappearance of the tonic here, with its sense of homecoming, proves somewhat premature, however, as previous harmonic oppositions play out on a larger scale, cuing a succession of modulations and an intensification of the exchanges between the soloists and the orchestra. There are various reprises of the motifs connected to the primary theme and its associated key, though the ancillary tonal centre of B major becomes ever more prominent, marked by jostling percussive syncopation and fanfaric surges from the soloists and brass.