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Chamber Symphonies in Fairfax

Charles T. Downey, Concert review: Fairfax Symphony Orchestra balances the sweet and astringent
Washington Post, January 20, 2014

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Britten, Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (inter alia), I. Bostridge, Berlin Philharmonic, S. Rattle
The Washington area has so many regional orchestras that the enterprising ensembles among them would do well to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Christopher Zimmerman, the music director of the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, has been doing just that with his alluring choice of repertoire. The group’s latest concert, on Saturday night at George Mason University, brought together four pieces that I have not heard from a local orchestra in at least a decade.

A mirrorlike arrangement of the pieces embedded two more serious works between lighter ones, by Edward Elgar and Benjamin Britten, both of which recycle and preserve music written early in each composer’s career. Elgar’s “Serenade in E Minor” was a mellow experience, the outer movements gently rolling and the middle slow movement tender, the juicy dissonances drawn out sweetly. Britten’s “Simple Symphony” was just as pleasing, each movement like a bite-size petit four, here tart and there chocolate-smooth. [Continue reading]
Fairfax Symphony Orchestra
Music by Elgar, Britten, Shostakovich
George Mason University, Harris Theater

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I must disagree with Mr. Downey when he says, "Moore played what looked like a natural horn for the outer movements, heightening the effect of the natural harmonics, which sound slightly out of tune."

A 12-foot tube is a 12-foot tube; harmonics played on the F-side of a modern double (or even triple) horn have exactly the same pitch tendencies as harmonics played on a natural horn in F. That infamous 11th harmonic wouldn't have sounded any less out-of-tune played on the modern instrument without using the valves.

The timbre might be noticeably different, considering most natural horns are made of thinner metal than their modern counterparts and lack the valves and slides (and their respective soldering joints) which, even if not in use, would have a dampening effect on the rest of the instrument.

I suspect Mr. Moore played the outer movements on a natural horn because he owns one, and all those years playing in the Navy Band probably didn't give him much opportunity to use it in a concert setting.