Virtuoso Horn Duo`s Premier CD completed

Posted By on April 11, 2006

Last week, Kristina and I met conductor and OPL colleague, Dariusz Wisnieswski, at the Frankfurt Airport, where we flew together to Warsaw, Poland. In Warsaw, we were joined by Mr. Bud Fenker, the horn player and publisher, and together we all set out for Krakow, approximately 5 hours south by car. Already waiting for us in Krakow was sound engineer, Mr. Phil Whitaker, formerly of the BBC. His wife, Dorothy, was accompanying him. On Monday, April 3rd, the team was complete and we all made our way to the recording space, which was prepared by the administration of the Sinfonietta Cracovia, an excellent chamber orchestra that has been performing, recording and touring for a number of years now.From April 3-5,2006, the Virtuoso Horn Duo recorded a CD of works for 2 horns and chamber orchestra with the Sinfonietta Cracovia, under the direction of Dariusz Wisniewski.

The project was a CD recording of four works for two solo horns and chamber orchestra. The program:

Concerto in Eb by Joseph Haydn
Concerto Grosso “lEstro Armonico” by Antonio Vivaldi
“Twas a Dark and Stormy Night” by Kerry Turner
Concerto in Eb Nr. III (16) by Antonio Rosetti

This program was extremely challenging, but also wonderfully varied and interesting. Kristina and I had been practicing for it for quite some time now. We had already performed all but the Rosetti concerto. Assembling the orchestra material proved also to be rather challenging. We were able to order the Haydn and Rosetti scores and parts from Professor Hans Pizka, and the “Dark and Stormy Night” arrangement from the original version for horn and organ (piano) was completed shortly before we departed for Warsaw. Hungarian hornist, Zsoltan Varga, had done the arrangement of the famous Vivaldi concerto for 2 violins, but had not done an orchestral accompaniment. This was arranged by a colleague in Poland. The virtuosity of the program goes without saying. To call it extreme is putting it rather lightly. The range covered three and a half octaves (pedal Bb to double high F) and demanded utmost agility of both fingers and embouchure.
Here we listen to the takes from Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso in the booth with the concertmaster of Sinfonietta Cracovia, and our sound engineer Philip Whitaker.

Originally I believed our recording time to be limited: three days of five hours a day, and that included rehearsals. But in fact, we actually completed the recording a session early!

Dariusz Wisniewski had collaborated with me and the AHQ once before on our CD production with the Sinfonia Varsovia (Schumann, Telemann, Handel, Haydn) on the Naxos label back in 2003. He worked very efficiently and knowledgably. Phil Whitaker achieved a spectacular sound quality with his equipment and know-how. I rather think we sounded better on his head phones than we did in real life! Bud Fenker was the producer, pooling his experience as a horn player himself together with a recording project we did together back last summer (see my blog from July 24th, 2005, “ Flexible Brass Recording Project” ). The Sinfonietta Cracovia is a young and enthusiastic ensemble that had just recorded a CD for the Polish composer, Penderecki. And I think it is worth mentioning that this was Kristina`s first “solo” CD recording. Her professionalism, experience and talent proved to be invaluable during the sessions.
In an afternoon break, we found a cozy cafe in the center of Krakow called “Camelot.” L-R: Kristina Mascher, conductor Dariusz Wisniewski, producer Bud Fenker, and Kerry Turner.
There was only one setback. After recording the Haydn for about an hour, Mr. Whitaker informed us that something with his cables and sockets had gone terribly wrong and we had been getting an odd, albeit subtle electronic noise that he finally decided was not acceptable. After having solved the problem, and quite quickly I might add, we were obliged to re-record the entire exposition of the first movement. And given our limited time and the inherent nature of the recording experience, this was very trying on our collective nerves!

Nevertheless, the entire project came off beautifully! This CD will most probably be released before Christmas on the Musicians Showcase Recording label (MSRCD).

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