Because It’s Just So Jolly

Miss Mussel has a weakness for large groups of homogenous instruments – string quartet, cello ensemble, bassoon quartet, horn octet and even tuba choir, as long as the range and timbre variance is large. Saxophone ensembles are begrudgingly admired but groups of flutes, clarinets or oboes are avoided like that porcine influenza that seems to be popping up all over creation.

Here’s the horns of the Berliner and Vienna Philharmonikers hashing through a movement of Haydn’s String Quartet Hob.â…¢ 38 “The Joke” It’s a lovely idea except for the small technical problem of French horns not being built to play very high relative to, say, the violin. The highest note in orchestra horn literature can easily be reached in first position on the violin.

All goes well until 1:27 when the gentlemen third from the right decides to play his line in the correct octave. His valiant reach for a super D (G on top of the treble staff in concert pitch) goes a bit awry. At that altitude, the notes are attainable but only just and very unreliably. The odds are better for him than Icarus but the end result is the same.

Here are eight Berliners rocking Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture. Say what you wish about French horns – that opening lick is pretty impressive stuff.

And finally, one for the kids.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *