Weber, Symphonies 1 & 2
In his 39 years (1786-1826), Weber managed an intense diversity of activity. As a pianist, Liszt admired him; as a conductor, he abandoned direction from the keyboard in favour of a consistent use of the baton and rearranged the positioning of the players in terms of tonal blend. As an opera director he exerted an influence on stage presentation by subtler lighting, costume and set design. As a writer of articles, letters and an autobiographical novel, he expressed his ideals with force, eloquence and humour; as a composer, among his achievements are the inception of German Romantic Opera and the development of imaginative orchestral techniques which were to influence Berlioz and Mahler and were admired by Debussy and Stravinsky.
"Some of this has to be heard to be believed! The Hannover Band, under the highly-musical Roy Goodman, play superbly in the overtures and symphonies. The rasping, huge-toned horns, biting trumpets and menacing trombones are glorious. Many actually buy this set for what was almost an afterthought, the Horn Concertino. Tony Halstead finds sounds others only dream of in this nightmarish tour-de-force for hand horn. He has no valves to even out the tone, so you get what Weber expected. Some parts find him vocalising as well as playing, as Weber intended, it seems. Try it - I play the horn and only the "top brass", as it were, can manage this. I can't, needless to say! The man is a horn legend, there's no other word for it.It is a cold heart indeed that can't be inspired by this 2 cd set. Buy it whilst you can, you'll not regret it!"-Geoffrey Bellamy
"I'm not a musician so this review may be of limited worth.I bought this disc after hearing Halstead's amazing performance of the Horn Concertino. I've heard other performances of this work but none are as memorable for me.All of the performances on this disc are bright and exciting.- Anonymous
"I have several recordings of the Weber horn concertino, a staple of the horn repertoire and a party piece for many players. This is far and away my favourite. Tony Halstead's playing is a masterclass in hand stopping technique, incredibly fluid and a joy to hear. The balance from the orchestra is perfect, the Hanover Band delivering their usual sensitive and thoughtful performance, but it is Tony's playing that really makes this recording for me. Many other fine recordings of the Weber exist (for vivacity, lightness of touch and sense of fun I love Barry Tuckwell's version, and for sheer virtuosity Frank Lloyd is a tough act to beat), but in this recording we have a winning combination of the softer-sounding natural horn, a really great historically informed performance band, and a knowledgeable and sympathetic interpretation from Goodman and Halstead."- Guy Chapman