Horn of plenty blew through

Basset-horn
Basset-horn

Horn of plenty blew through

A basset-horn like a basset-hound, is a curious beast at first sight.

This elongated sibling of the clarinet is not actually a horn at all but a wind instrument.

In appearance reminiscent of an elongated saxophone (or tall seahorse), played seated the bell descends to rest on a slender metal leg somewhere around achilles level.

Invented somewhere in the mid-1770s, the instrument – with its soft, sweet, bobbing tone – was championed intially by Mozart, and it was on this maestro’s work that Manchester Camerata brought a pair to bear at the town’s King George Hall Sunday last. The programme began with Beethoven’s rarely performed Rondino, a short charming piece boasting prominent 
effervescent horn parts.

Dvorák’s popular Serenade for Wind followed, bringing the award-winning chamber orchestra’s fifth principal 
conductor Gábor Takács-Nagy to the stage.

An energetic performance injected new life into this familiar piece, and the modest but appreciative crowd gave a fine ovation into the interval.

The main event, Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 in B-flat major (Gran Partita) was a joy from start to end.

A piece in seven movements, this is widely regarded as among the most inventive and uplifting music ever written for wind instruments.

Soaring, lyrical, underpinned throughout by the soft tumbling basset-horn runs, the audience were captivated from first note to last.

Another triumph on the road for the North West’s leading chamber orchestra and a rare privilege to be in attendance.

Barry Freeman