Ivo Dudler, Howard Griffiths / Camerata Schweiz
Mozart: Horn Concerto No.4 in E♭ major, K.465 (Recording Session)

Recording @ Kirche Oberstrass, Zurich, 2021-03-19


2021-03-27 — Original posting



Table of Contents


General Remarks

This is the second instance of a set of “workshop reports“, reports from visits to CD recording sessions: neither media reviews (the music is only just being recorded), nor concert reports: there is no audience, no complete performance, just a rehearsal and a series of takes with at most a full movement in a single “chunk”. See also my posting from 2021-03-18 for more detail.

One should read this as a “teaser” for an ongoing CD recording project. The “end product” will only become available in about a year’s time.


Introduction

Venue, Date(s)Kirche Oberstrass, Zurich, 2021-03-19 / 2021-03-20
Series / TitleOrpheum Foundation: Next Generation Mozart Soloists
Organizer(s)Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists
Goldmann Public Relations
Related PostingsReviews of concerts organized by the Orpheum Foundation

The Context

I’m honored to be invited to attend recording sessions for a newly launched CD project that the Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists is initiating. The title of the project is “Next Generation Mozart Soloists“. It involves the recording of (essentially) all of the instrumental concerts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791). That project will span a duration of around five years. It involves numerous young soloists that the Orpheum Foundation is currently supporting, or who have received support in the past. The session discussed here was part of the recordings for the first CD.


The Organizer

In the first posting of this short series I have written about the Orpheum Foundation for the Support of Young Artists, the organizer and initiator for this recording project. I want to keep this posting short. Therefore, for detail see my posting from 2021-03-18. In that same posting, I have also given an introduction to the 11-CD Project “Next Generation Mozart Soloists” that I referred to above.


The First CD in the Project “Next Generation Mozart Soloists”

The first of 11 CDs in this project covers three concertos:

The three concertos above were all performed with the accompaniment of the Camerata Schweiz (see also Wikipedia) under the direction of Howard Griffiths (*1950, see also Wikipedia). Howard Griffiths is also the Artistic Director of the Orpheum Foundation.


The Artists in This Recording Session

For information on the orchestra, the Camerata Schweiz, as well as on its conductor, Howard Griffiths, see again my preceding posting from 2021-03-18. For all concertos in this first CD recording, the orchestra configuration was identical (6 + 5 violins, 4 violas, 3 cellos, 2 double basses, 2 horns, 2 oboes).

Ivo Dudler, French Horn

The Swiss hornist Ivo Dudler (*1994 in Steinach, Canton St.Gallen) started learning the horn at age 12. His first teacher soon recommended that he took lessons in Zurich, at the ZHdK (Zurich University of the Arts), where his teacher was Mischa Greull (solo hornist at the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich). 2013, he switched to the Universität der Künste Berlin (University of the Arts, Berlin), where he studied under Christian-Friedrich Dallmann (*1955) and Sebastian Posch (*1978). Currently, Ivo Dudler is continuing his studies with Szabolcs Zempléni (*1981) at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (University of the Arts) in Hamburg.

Ivo Dudler won various awards (see his Biography), and in 2017 he became solo hornist in the NDR Radiophilharmonie in Hannover, and in 2019 he received a call to join the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele.

The soloist performed on a modern French horn (a valved double horn in F/B♭).


The Recording Venue, Setting

For some notes about the recording venue see again my preceding posting from 2021-03-18. The setting was essentially identical, with the one exception that the piano for the third set of recording sessions for the first CD had already been delivered to the exact location where it would stay for the associated, last part of the recording sessions.

This report is from the afternoon session of the second recording day. It was one of 2 1/2 sessions devoted to Ivo Dudler and the Horn Concerto No.4 in E♭ major, K.495 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791).


Recording Session Experience

Just as a reminder: this is not a concert critique; I’m merely describing my first, unbiased impressions. The session that I attended was mostly filled with takes for the first movement (Allegro maestoso). The other movements (II: Romance: Andante cantabile, and III: Rondo: Allegro vivace) were recorded in the subsequent sessions.

For the orchestra setup and its sound, articulation, playing style, etc. see again my preceding posting from 2021-03-18.

Solo Part

Ivo Dudler’s modest, natural and calm appearance, his unpretentious, but firm and factual posture in front of the orchestra were deceptive. The performance certainly confirmed his professional track record: careful and diligent in the dynamics, excellent, mellow articulation and phrasing, and an exceptionally smooth and well-balanced tone. Never he let the tone turn “brassy” or resort to spectacular signals / motifs that might stand out: he maintained balance with the sound of the orchestra.

I: Allegro maestoso

The solo horn effortlessly projected through the sound of the orchestra—naturally, as it was played near the center of the nave. Still, the musicians maintained an excellent balance, also with the two horns in the back of the orchestra (which is of course also owed to Mozart’s diligent composition).

Expectedly, Ivo Dudler had no technical issues with the solo part, also in the virtuosic, fast passages. One should of course not underestimate the challenges in Mozart’s horn part (even though this was a valved horn, as opposed to the natural horns at Mozart’s time): towards the end of the 3-hour session, one could sense the strain that the solo put on Ivo Dudler’s lips / muscles. By the end of the session, the recording of the first movement was not complete (e.g.: I never heard the cadenza at full length). The artists continued on the following day.

At first, I regretted the use of a modern valve horn. However, then, I reminded myself that the orchestra is not set up for “strict” historic instrumentation. And I did indeed enjoy Ivo Dudler’s smooth, well-balanced tone, color and volume across the range—which are impossible to achieve on a natural horn.

Acoustics

Not surprisingly (after the first recording sessions), the acoustics were ideal, very harmonious and natural in the reverberation. This was particularly true for the horn solo, which seemed to be in perfect harmony with the venue.


Conclusions

I have little, if anything to add to my conclusions from the first recording day. At least for the parts which I attended (and I’m sure this also applies to the remainder of the composition), the performance of the second concerto on this first CD sounded as promising as the first one. I’m curious to listen to the end result, once it becomes available, in around a year from now.



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