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CD Review - Anabel Voigt - Tenor Horn - Farbenspiel

In this blog post, I am going to review a new CD by German E flat tenor horn player and member of the Tredegar Town Band, Anabel Voigt.

Horn CD

This CD was a project for Anabel's final year at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and it is a rather vast undertaking. Not just due to the repertoire selected, and that Anabel has arranged some music herself but the ensembles who she records with. The CD features a string ensemble, pianist and brass band and was recorded at various locations in early 2024.

Farbenspiel is the German word for 'colourplay' and I like the idea of representing sounds with colour, something which Anabel has clearly put a lot of thought into. Cleverly considering a sound palette for each track and also weaving those colours into the CD inlay design.

For tenor horn players, like euphonium players, we have to work hard to find new music. It is great to commission new composers to write for our instruments but some composers out there will not or can not. Our modern brass instruments didn't exist at all in the Baroque days and it is important that the tenor horn has access to this style. I actually think that the tenor horn sound and dexterity is brilliantly suited to Baroque music and Anabel demonstrates this perfectly in the opening tracks of her CD which feature music by Telemann and Pergolesi.

The momentum in promoting and celebrating compositions by female composers is achieved through artists like Anabel who features music by three female composers on her CD. Fanny Hensel, Andrea Hobson and Maho Kato. It is crazy to think that the sister of Mendelssohn was also a brilliant composer but was left unknown, just because she was a woman. How many more female composers would there have been if the world was more like it is now I wonder, something that all musicians todays have the task of changing.

My favourite track on the CD is Syrinx by Debussy. Again, I think this piece is excellently suited to the tenor horn and Anabel gives the music time and space, achieving a mesmerising sense of fluency and contrast that is not always achieved on the flute.

Anabel horn

When the brass band accompaniment appears on the Strauss Horn Concerto No.2, it almost felt too familiar after hearing the tenor horn with strings. The tenor horn voice can sometimes get lost in the mix of a brass band and for a tenor horn soloist, I think the brass band can be somewhat heavy. This isn't always the case on this recording of the concerto but it does show just how good the first six tracks on this CD are, and how brilliantly suited the tenor horn is with string accompaniment.

Track nine, an original piece for tenor horn, is Nightsong by German composer Frank Zabel. It is a huge contrast to the CD so far but is exactly what the listener needs at this point. An interesting work, calm and definitely aiding Anabel's attempt to produce colours with her music.

Gazella by Andrea Hobson again shows another side to the tenor horn. Funky and upbeat, with some fun moments from the brass band accompaniment, especially in the percussion section. In this setting the brass band accompaniment works perfectly and there is some quality interplay between Anabel and the band.

The final three tracks of the CD are Three Dances by Japanese composer and euphonium player Maho Kato. Simply beautiful music, expertly performed by Anabel.

What I enjoy the most about this recording is the contrast in accompaniments. Hearing the piano accompany the horn almost completes the recording and allows it to achieve exactly what Anabel set out to do. It is a true colour play through time and genres.

It is a unique CD and does offer a rare listening experience. It is one which will appeal to a wide audience, not just tenor horn players. I can imagine the CD being enjoyed by anyone who just likes to sit back and listen to music, brass band enthusiasts and classical music lovers alike.

Congratulations Anabel on a fantastic recording!

To purchase, visit Anabel's website.

The full track list is:

Track list

Thank for reading ❤🎵

Mark Glover


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