Se hace saber. María Rubio, horn. © 2023 IBS Artist


Most Innovative and Interesting

Music for horn, enjoyed by GEOFF PEARCE

'... one cannot help but be impressed with the performances, the power of the music and what it is expressing ...'


This is not a disc that will suit everyone's taste, but the music is interesting and the horn playing is phenomenal. I had not heard of María Rubio before, but her playing is going to change that. Horn and brass players, especially those that like cutting edge contemporary music, will enjoy this disc very much.

Air for solo horn by Jörg Widmann (born Munich, 1973) was composed in 2005 for the performer's teacher. The work is constructed from the natural harmonic tones produced by the horn. There is an interesting effect in that a grand piano must be placed facing the bell of the horn, and its sustain pedal held down throughout the performance. This causes sympathetic vibrations within the piano and provides an interesting, veiled accompaniment. This very demanding work employs a wide range of dynamics and effects.

Listen — Jörg Widmann: Air for solo horn
(IBS112023 track 1, 3:44-4:25) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

e-Corno for solo horn and electronics by Vicent Gómez Pons (born 1961) was dedicated to another teacher of María Rubio. It is in three sections with a cadenza, and lasts a little over eight minutes. It also contains 'real-time' electronic processing. This is a very interesting sonic experience, and each section explores a different sonic interaction between horn and computer. Even if you do not care for such music, you are going to find this a fascinating and strangely satisfying journey.

Listen — Vicent Gómez Pons: e-Corno
(IBS112023 track 2, 5:11-5:52) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

One's Song (2012-2015) by Nina Šenk (born Ljubljana, 1982) is scored for horn and ad libitum instrumental group. The duration is about eight-and-a-half minutes. The original version was for solo horn, and this second version of the piece employs the instrumental forces as a kind of echo of the horn melodies, and refers to them as an 'echo ensemble'. They are very much more than this, and there is a clear explanation in the accompanying booklet.

Listen — Nina Šenk: One's Song
(IBS112023 track 3, 4:53-5:39) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

Joan Gómez Alemany (born Valencia, 1990) wrote the next work, Siegfried Delirium II, and dedicated it to the performer. This version from 2021 is a continuation of a work from 2016. It also employs electronics and is very atmospheric. The inspiration for the title becomes evident some way through the work. In the second half of the work there are many different references to other composers' works which feature the horn. The solo horn has to employ a very wide range of techniques to produce a work that, indeed, is a little mad, but so effective.

Listen — Joan Gómez Alemany: Siegfried Delirium II
(IBS112023 track 4, 3:23-4:07) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

Appel by Joan Magrané (born 1988) was commissioned by María Rubio herself. It was written in 2021 and the title refers to the historical setting of the horn, and indeed all brass instruments, being used for 'calls' since it's invention in various forms. This is a rather humorous, light-hearted work, employing two contrasting calls which eventually blend.

Listen — Joan Magrané: Appel
(IBS112023 track 5, 2:14-3:00) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

Empremtes líquides (Liquid Traces) by Voro Garcia (born 1970) is another work written for this performer. It was composed in 2019 and puts the performer's right hand technique to the fore. The title comes from the rather mad world conjured up by Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges. The author stated:

We are our memory, we are that chimeric museum of inconstant forms, that pile of broken mirrors. Time perpetually goes off towards innumerable futures.

This ten minute work is very rich with the various sounds that can be affected by the use of the right hand in the instrument, as well as various other means. I imagine that it, like most works on the disc, requires much concentration and attention to fine detail to make it work, and María Rubio really owns this work. I am most amazed at her articulation control and her remarkably fine ear with the application of microtones.

Listen — Voro Garcia: Empremtes líquides
(IBS112023 track 6, 5:29-6:18) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

Amparo Edo Biol (born Valencia, 1988) is a horn player as well as a composer. She wrote a short work entitled Maruna in 2013, dedicating it to the performer on this disc. It lasts three minutes, and is expressive at first but becomes more agitated as the work progresses, but always with points of relaxation.

Listen — Amparo Edo Biol: Maruna
(IBS112023 track 7, 2:26-3:02) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

Another work by Voro Garcia, Al·legoria de l'ego (Allegory of the Ego), uses horn along with bass trombone. It was written in 2019, dedicated to the two performers on this disc and is basically a conflict between the self and the ego, each trying to get the upper hand. Lasting just over five minutes, it is a piece that is full of interest and colour.

The final work on this disc gives it its title. It was commissioned by María Rubio and completed in 2022 by Elena Mendoza (born Seville, 1973). It employs horn and percussion, and talks about the erosion of freedom, cancel culture and the basic human need to express an opinion. It is nearly ten minutes in length, and also calls on the performers to shout through a megaphone. It also uses a siren, a whistle and a newspaper. At times it is quite anguished, as the subject matter would indicate. In many ways this is the most innovative and impressive work on the disc. I find this a most powerful and original work, and it does speak for today. There is an amazing middle section for bass drum, vocalisation and newspaper.

Listen — Elena Mendoza: Se hace saber ...
(IBS112023 track 9, 4:40-5:26) ℗ 2023 IBS Artist :

The more I hear this disc, the more I enjoy it, and there is much to challenge a listener here, but ultimately one cannot help but be impressed with the performances, the power of the music and what it is expressing - most innovative and interesting.

Copyright © 25 October 2023 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia



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