Voices from the Past: Instruments of the Bate Collection. Vol. 1: Horns.

Anneke Scott (horns) with Joseph Walters (horns), Marcus Barcham-Stevens (violin), Robin Michael (cello), Frances Kelly (harp), Steven Devine (pianos) & James Gilchrist (tenor).

The gift of music, 2013.




  • Marc- Antoine de Dampierre (1676-1756) - Fanfares (1734).
  • George Frederick Handel (1685–1759)/Anon - Forrest Harmony Duets (1733-34).
  • Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) - Divertimento a tre.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) - Duos for two horns.
  • Heinrich Simrock (1754–1839) - Theme and variations.
  • Ignaz Moscheles (1794–1870) - Introduction et Rondo.
  • Franz Schubert (1797–1828) - Auf dem Strom.
  • Camille Saint-Säens (1835–1921) - Romance.
  • Richard Strauss (1864–1949) - Andante.
  •  Paul Dukas (1865–1935) - Villanelle.

Read reviews of Voices from the Past here.

CDs are available from www.plumstead-peculiars.com. Downloads are available from iTunes.

The sound of the horn is inextricably linked with the hunt; quotes from hunting calls can be found in the instrument's repertoire up until this day. The hunting horn was a symbol of honour and prestige, with courts throughout Europe striving to emulate Versailles and Fontainebleau. In 1681 the Bohemian aristocrat, Count Anton von Sporck was so taken with the horn playing he heard in Versailles that he ordered two of his servants to be instructed in the instrument, thus sowing the seeds of what was to become the highly regarded school of Austro-Bohemian horn playing. A selection of early eighteenth-century hunting calls by Marc-Antoine de Dampierre, "gentilhomme des plaisirs du roy" and horn player to Louis XV, open this disc. These Tons de chasse et fanfare may have been the type of horn music that had so inspired Sporck on his visit; they include a greeting call (Halali), signals used during the hunt (La Royalle and La Dauphine), a fanfare for the feast day of St Hubert (La St Hubert) plus more recreational hunting music (La Choisy and La Dampierre). The wide three-looped cor de chasse (hunting horn) by the French maker Carlin has a brightness of tone that is associated with this repertoire and style of playing.

The horn was initially used in musical settings almost as a sound effect – indicating that the plot of an opera or ballet had turned outdoors to the hunting field. George Friedrich Handel, in his Water Music, was one of the earliest composers to write for the instrument in a purely musical setting. Handel’s works were hugely popular and can be found in numerous transcriptions during the eighteenth century, including a number of duets in the four-volume collection The Forrest Harmony. A selection of duets from the first volume has been chosen including, a setting of the famous opening to the Water Music. It is fitting to use a combination of Anglo-Germanic makers for these works, one instrument by the English maker Bennett and the other by the German maker Haas. These instruments are played without using either the hand or other "un- natural” devices to alter the natural harmonic series. They are true "natural" horns and thus the intonation of the instruments can strike modern ears as unusual.

During the eighteenth century horn players developed a technique that tamed the more strident natural harmonics. By altering the hand in the bell of the instrument, "stopping" the air, other notes could be formed and a variety of timbres created. The dimensions of the bell grew to accommodate this technique and the development of crooks -removable loops of tubing that could be inserted into the instrument thus changing the length of the instrument gave greater musical potential to the instrument. Joseph Haydn’s Divertimento a tre was written for the Esterházy horn player Carl Franz and exploits the full four octave range of the horn in a theme with three variations followed by a boisterous Allegro di Molto. The anonymous German instrument is representative of early hand-horns in having no tuning-slide, and therefore requiring judicious choice of crooks.The comparatively large dimensions of the flare of bell presents challenges in the nimble horn writing of this work.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s works for horn are among the most famous written for the instrument. In addition to his numerous concerti and chamber works featuring the instrument there are a collection of twelve Duos. A short suite of four movements is included here. In these works Mozart explores the large range of the instruments, demanding a range of over three and a half octaves between the two musicians. For these works a pair of Courtois hand-horns were chosen as an ideal match of instruments, their decorative painted bells, a tradition that flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, are an added bonus. In comparison to the anonymous instrument used for the Haydn these instruments are generally more refined and show a further development with the addition of tuning slides. The Courtois family of makers had an illustrious history and the name lives on today as part of the Buffet Crampon group of manufacturers.

The combination of horn and harp proved very popular during the nineteenth century, with many works written for the combination. An ideal balance is created using instruments of the era as the timbres of the two instruments blend and complement one another. Marcel-Auguste Raoux was a horn player and a member of the highly influential family of horn makers credited with advancing horn design and creating some of the best instruments of the time. This particular Raoux hand-horn is a model known as a "cor-solo" – the removable crooks are in the middle of the instrument, on the tuning slide, leaving the leadpipe of the instrument stationary. This design is only possible in the solo crooks of D, E flat, E, F and G, hence the name "cor-solo". Heinrich Simrock was the brother of the publisher Nikolaus Simrock and it is likely that the pair debuted Beethoven’s Sextet Op.81b for two horns and strings. Simrock spent much of his life in Paris, where there was a great appetite for compositions for horn and harp such as this Thema mit Sechs Variationen.

The development of the omnitonic horn provides us with many wonderful and fantastical designs. Omnitonic horns aimed to combine all the possible crook combinations available to the hand-horn in one instrument; however, the efficacy of these designs varied enormously. Callcott’s Radius horn is one of the more elegant solutions – the leadpipe leads to the centre of the instrument from which the tube spirals around and around until the bell. A telescopic arm connects various points on the spiral tubing; by changing this configuration the key of the horn is changed. One of the many fans of Callcott’s instrument was the horn player Giovanni Puzzi, for whom Moscheles wrote his Introduction et Rondeau Ecossais.

The song Auf dem Strom is one of Schubert’s final compositions, and also one of the earliest works for the valve-horn. The valve, having been invented in 1814, ran into many early teething problems. Many felt the hand-horn not only to be more dependable but also to be a more sensitive and beautiful instrument. Joseph Rudolphe Lewy was one of the first to dispel doubts about the new instrument, and it was he, along with the tenor Ludwig Tietze and the composer himself, who gave the first performance of Auf dem Strom on the 26th of March 1828. Lewy’s instrument had only two valves (in comparison to modern instrument's four) and Lewy used a combination of hand-technique and valves, an approach that can be heard to great effect when Schubert requires the horn player to descend chromatically, with the most dissonant note of the phrase being a fully stopped A-flat. The Thomas Key instrument comes with a removable (or "sauterelle") valve block consisting of two Stölzel valves, one of the earliest designs of valves, and can be crooked into a wide range of keys.

In 1874 Camille Saint-Saêns composed the first of his two Romances for horn for Jean-Henri Garigue, a pupil of the more famous horn player Jacques-François Gallay. The Romance in F (Op. 36) is a slighter piece than the later Romance in E (Op. 67) written for Henri Chaussier. The work is an example of the French musical scene continuing to use the hand-horn late into the nineteenth century. Curiously, Garigue, though a hand-horn player by training, became an advocate of the valve-horn when in 1890 his son was denied the opportunity to audition for the Paris Conservatoire, having arrived at the audition only with a piston horn. The instrument used is a hand-horn made by Halari (or Halary, a contraction of Hilaire Asté), a family of brass makers in nineteenth-century Paris.

The soaring horn lines of Richard Strauss are for many the ideal late Romantic image of the instrument. The influence of his horn-playing father, Franz Strauss, cannot be underestimated. Franz Strauss, though often described as somewhat stubborn and pugnacious, was regarded as the "Joachim of the horn" (Hans von Bülow) and was the horn player for whom Wagner composed most of his works. Richard Strauss composed two concertos for the instrument, as well as this Andante, which was written in 1888 to celebrate his parents’ Silver wedding anniversary and which may have originally been intended as the middle movement of a horn sonata. Of all the instruments used on this disc the Sachsische Musikinstrumenten Fabriken looks most similar to the modern horn, having three rotary valves and being built in the key of F.

Since its foundation in the late eighteenth century, the Paris Conservatoire has done much to contribute to the repertoire of the horn. Many prominent composers were encouraged to compose works for the annual competitions, and were required to create works that tested many aspects of a player's technique, such as exploiting the wide range of the instrument, hand-stopping, trills, and the use of mutes.Dukas’s Villanelle (1906) was written only a few years after the "cor simple" (hand-horn) classes had been disbanded, yet requires the horn player to use hand-horn technique in the opening section, evoking a nostalgic charm. The French design of piston horns was very popular up until the mid twentieth century; the Couesnon instrument has a light, agile tone ideal for such repertoire.

Anneke Scott