Johanna Lundy: Canyon Songs
At the heart of this programme is an impressively virtuoso performance, on unaccompanied horn, of Bach’s Solo Flute Partita, BWV1013. Johanna Lundy’s playing is simply breathtaking – it certainly left me breathless – whether in the elegance of the opening Allemande, the grace of the Courante and Sarabande or the bounce in the concluding Bourrée. Lundy almost convinces that the work was written for her instrument, except of course the valve horn was not invented for almost another century. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra are clearly extremely fortunate to have her as their principal hornist, a post she has held for 12 years.
Her virtuosity is apparent throughout the programme, which is unaccompanied except for the final and title-track, Pamela Decker’s Canyon Songs (2016 with piano, arr 2017). Another canyon song opens the disc, ‘Interstellar Call’, the solo horn sixth movement from Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles … (1971 74). Although Messiaen did not approve its separate performance, it started out as a solo piece before being subsumed within the larger whole. Dating from eight years later, Maxwell Davies’s triptych Sea Eagle (1982) provides Lundy with a different challenge in its more lyrical tone-painting. Hers is as compelling a performance as Richard Watkins’s markedly slower (in the first two spans) account.
The pick of the other works is Esa-Pekka Salonen’s 2000 Concert Étude, full of beautifully fluent writing (he did start out as a horn player) and dramatic turns. Dan Coleman’s Night Storm (2017) and Bernhard Krol’s more conventionally inclined Laudatio provide fine contrast, each drawing out another facet of Lundy’s musicality. MSR Classics’ sound is nicely done, Lundy perfectly placed (not too forward, not recessed). A rather fine disc.