Anneke Scott, Songs of Love, War and Melancholy

 

Anneke Scott, Songs of Love, War and Melancholy: The Operatic Fantasies of Jacques-François Gallay, Resonus Classics (RES10153), 2015. www.resonusclassics.com

Anneke Scott, natural horn (cor solo by Marcel-Auguste Raoux, 1823), Steven Devine, piano (grand piano by Érard, 1851), Lucy Crowe, soprano. Recorded at the Ruddick Performing Arts Centre, Birmingham on 16-18 August 2014Gallay’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.

-- Eric Brummitt