Douglas Lundeen, french horn
Barbara Gonzáles-Palmer, piano
“Le cor français authentique” brings a style of purely French musicianship on a truly French horn playing an all-French repertoire in the hands of a master musician, Douglas Lundeen, who has researched the horn in its various incarnations throughout the ages, playing on a design of the French horn which would have been a standard for the 19th century and beyond. The valve was first introduced on the horn c. before 1814 by a German hornist/instrument builder Heinrich Stölzel, as a means of changing the length of the instrument while playing in order to fill in the gaps between the natural harmonics. Indeed, up until the later 1940’s, English horn players played on instruments of French design and manufacture. These instruments were built with trumpet-like piston valves and fitted with natural horn crooks. They also maintained the slender dimensions of the pre-valve instrument, which had reached its highest degree of perfection and virtuosic refinement in France in the first half of the 19th century. The singular sound of this instrument, as heard on this CD, harkens back to some of the best viruosic players of the golden age of the design.
The repertoire of Planel, Tomasi, Bozza, Gounod, Dukas, Saint-Saens and others are presented as these composers intended and “heard” their works to be played on this French valved instrument. The technical competence required for each track is unique, as some of them were regarded as a test of the highest level of performance. The Saint-Saens and Gounod tracks are included as examples of the pure vocal treatment of the horn by two of France’s greatest composers. The Dukas track was the first conservatory test-piece for horn to specifically exploit the newly “legitimized” valve instrument. Tomasi describes what he composed in this way: “I write for the public at large. Music that doesn’t come from the heart isn’t music.” Listening to this album will give you an entrée into a world of the French horn which has seldom been heard, and certainly not in one collection such as this, played by one of the instrument’s best and most studied master.