Originally published on July 9

This showcase for Martin Owen, principal horn BBC Symphony Orchestra, includes Weber’s Concertino, which, following a few bars of orchestral operatic intent, introduces Owen’s mellifluous lyrical phrasing and rich tone – Weber conjures a corker of a tune, too, which hangs around afterwards earworm-like – and there is of course plenty of derring-do required of the soloist, which Owen rides with poise and musical virtuosity.

Richard Strauss’s pair of Horn Concertos come from either end of his career. The Second is autumnal and songful, eloquently turned and richly sounded by Owen, and finely detailed by the BBC Philharmonic and John Wilson, conveying a certain contentment by the composer if no lack of ideas and compositional fluency, with jocularity and sleights of hand in the fleet Finale. The First Concerto is of youthful ardour and (slow movement) forest legends, Strauss issuing a technical challenge to any player taking it on, which Owen does with aplomb, magically suggestive in the central Andante. In this piece one could cite Dennis Brain, Alan Civil and Barry Tuckwell, to mention just three masters of the horn, Owen their equal; however, the leader of the pack is Myron Bloom with Szell conducting, https://www.colinscolumn.com/myron-bloom-talks-to-sarah-willis-one-of-sarahs-horn-hangouts/.

Finally, although it’s first up, is Schumann’s flamboyant and soulful Concertstück, Owen joined by Alec Frank-Gemmill (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra), Christopher Parkes (Swedish Radio Symphony) & Sarah Willis (Berlin Philharmonic) for an impressively assured account, as colourful as it is poignant, the BBC Phil and Wilson playing their part in bringing out this wonderful score’s vividness, expressiveness and exhilaration, a tour de force in fact.

Chandos CHAN 20168 – with excellent recording courtesy of Stephen Rinker, production values from either Mike George or Brian Pidgeon, and generous annotation – is released on July 28.