Review - Selected Schubert Songs for horn and piano
transcribed by Bob Ashworth

 

edb 0702012 Chamber Music series

It has often struck me as a pity that Schubert didn’t write anything for solo horn. His horn parts in, for example, the Octet, Auf dem Strom, and even the symphonies, are written with a beautiful understanding of the instrument and its strengths. Bob Ashworth’s new set of six lieder transcriptions, therefore, is a very welcome addition to our repertoire.

The first thing to say is that an immense amount of thought and care has clearly been put into this set. The song texts are provided, in both German and English, along with some fascinating illustrations and information about 19th century horns, and also about the famous Lewy Brothers and their association with Schubert. The typesetting is immaculate and even the paper quality is super. The overall impression is of a serious level of attention to detail.

That same level of care is also to be found in the transcriptions themselves. For each of the
songs, Bob has provided two piano parts: the first is exactly as composed by Schubert, but the second is cleverly and sympathetically simplified for, in Bob’s own words, “those with perhaps less pianistic ability”. These piano parts will, no doubt, be very much appreciated by many horn teachers, and will allow students and teachers to enjoy playing together. I suspect there will also be many students who will enjoy taking the opportunity to learn both parts, allowing an even greater understanding of Schubert’s harmony and word-painting.

In the horn parts, Bob has given thoughtful and tasteful performance suggestions with dotted slurs and bracketed articulations in addition to Schubert’s own markings. He is, however, clear that performers should also feel free to experiment and to find the phrasing which suits their own interpretation.

Bob is also very encouraging with his suggestions to try the songs in various transpositions and even on natural horn. As such, the set represents a tremendous resource for study, giving wonderful melodies to explore whilst working on sound, breathing and intonation.
Having said that, I feel that these songs will also prove very useful as recital pieces in their own right. They work well as a set, but individually would also make super encores. I have thoroughly enjoyed working on them myself - a lovely way to get to know this wonderful music from the inside.

Tim Jackson, The Horn Player, BHS, Vol 18 #3 – AUTUMN 2021

 

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