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  • World first recording: C.F.Abel two Horn Concertos Eb-maj (D-Ka Mus.Hs.1057/8)

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    Here is one (of the two) beautiful unknown Hornconcertos in Eb-Maj by Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-1787) of course done with the Hisoric Wind natural Horn in Eb. (Produced based on a digitalized historic manuscript)

    C.F.Abel: Hornconcerto in Eb-maj KnaA deest (Sig: D-Ka Mus. Hs. 1057)

    I hope you like it:

  • That is fabulous!  I love this piece, and you did a great job with the strings as well as the solo horn.  Is that Dimension strings?  This would be very difficult for a horn player - I know being a horn player!   (Not a very good one but I know the difficulty of horn playing. I shudder to think of playing it on a natural horn. ) Anyway, a fantastic job of performance, and I admire how you are bringing this little known work out.  He is a really fine composer!  

  • This is fantastic, I esp like the allegro movement.

    I cant distinguish this from a real performance by a world class orchestra!

  • Just wanted to reiterate.

    I heard this again and the rendering quality is astoundingly good!

    Everything, including the control of the dynamics, articulation, is just perfect.


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    Hi William, Hi Anand,

    Thank you so much for your so encouraging and friendly reactions on my little unknown Hornconcerto experiment. 

    Yes what you hear are the dimension strings. For something like a more or less "historic inspired" interpretation I chose small sections  (4, 4,  3, 2, 1) and  tried to avoid vibrato on the strings prefering articulations either with no Vibrato or "espr." which also starts with very little or no vibrato, I even try to avoid  the detache (long) for the same reason, meanwhile I sometimes would like to have some long detache articulations without vibrato (perhaps this should be a feature request for the next VSL-String-Libraries 😉).

    However If anything with the strings might sound ok, I think we first of all should thank VSL for creating this incredible versatile and realistic string library.

  • Amazingly good, more specifically because of the nature of the music. The Adagio Grazioso is so delicate and the non vibrato playing technique so demanding to have a more or less realistic sound (even with VSL strings) in the historic performance. Even the typical sound of the baroque violins is present (EQ'ing?) I'm a great admiror of the historic performance (in Belgium we have quite a lot of excellent orchestras playing that way - as you have some in Germany too), and we are a bit spoiled with hearing only the utmost best... So what you've realised here is outstanding.

    If I'm allowed to give you a hint for the next movement: try to elaborate the continuo part a bit more. In the Adagio it sounds rather dull an uninspired (meaning not creative enough). The ensemble is quite small and the continuo might take part in the musical story a little more, adding some extra embellishment. It can easily be something more than just chords on the fundamental bass, following every bow strike. But of course, that's a matter of interpretation and you are the performer here. Everything is your personal choice.

    Apart from that, a very, very great approach with a natural horn at its best! Congratulations!


  • Hi Max,

    Thank you for your interesting hint. I came from the keyboard (Piano) and perhaps in young years my chambermusicpartner railed to often and to at me to much for being to loud to fast and what ever makes pianoplayer to dominant in chambermusic, that now I tend to hide accompagning keys whereever possible expecting especially for the harpsichord in baroque music not more than a silver shimmer on the music played by the strings. But you are right in an adagio I will perhaps in future think more about embelleshing.  

    btw. no eq'ing, I trust in good vsl soundengeneers and want to leave the instruments (samples) as much as possible simply how they are.

    But I use of course especially for slow movements very much CC 11 and Velocity X-Fade for each instrument. 

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    Here comes he second Hornconcerto atributed to C.F.Abel from the Manuscripts of the Badische Landesbibliothek Karlsruhe (D-Ka Mus. Hs. 1058):

    Hornconcerto II in Eb KnaA deest)

    Again a large slow movement combined with a livly second movement. The Solopart especially of the second part seem to me astonishingly more brilliant than most hornconcertos from barooque or classical period.

  • I listened to these - very impressive work and amazingly great compositions by a composer I never heard of - even though I am a horn player. He is unknown to most horn players though should be known.

    If you want any criticism - a lot of this sounds really great, however one thing that bothered me is the violin trills are all synchronized.  That is impossible and never heard.   As soon as two or more violins play their trills are totally non-synced.  So that needs to be changed.   

    The other thing I noticed was on the horn - it requires a huge amount of breath to play a horn - it is a really long length of tubing -  and this means there are lots of breath pauses while gulping for air.  There are sections in this recording where this horn just keeps playing like a pipe organ.  It is physically impossible.  So I think it should be exaggerated to show the breath marks.  

    Also, on the notes that are so fast in the fast movement - you need to realize all those are in the upper harmonics, the upper partials, and all those notes accessed totally by lip movement, hand position in the bell, and air pressure ALONE -  no valves.  And so it is incredibly hard to play such fast notes high up in the register.  If you normally just play in that area, you can smear chromatic notes all over the place like a glissando.  That is in fact what a horn glissando is.  A smear of higher range partials.  What that means is that the player on this piece, using only lip and pressure, would have to also use a lot of tongueing for such fast notes, because you simply cannot play all legato on all those notes and have them seperately audible like an oboe or a flute or an organ.  You can easily do it with samples, sure,  because they were recorded that way -totally separate -  but in reality there is no way all those fast notes could be separately played without more tonguing to force them into specific pitches and rhythms.

    That is my overly critical reaction because I know how hard it is to play a horn in the high range ESPECIALLY without valves.  It is nearly impossible to enunciate notes without tongueing them separately or having combinations like dee-ah-da-da-dee-ah etc.     

    But overall the sound is beautifully done, and what a great piece for horn that you have brought to light - that is a fine accomplishment in itself.   Don't get mad -  I do admire what you are doing with these lesser known composers. 

  • My reaction when I started playing the Andante was "wow". This sounds amazing.  (and btw this is not just for being nice, I wouldnt bother to comment if I didnt like it;))

    One note: Maybe the Bb notes played by the violins starting 4:06 need some hairpins to be more expressive?  And in some other points make the release of the strings a bit more smooth. Very minor issues anyways. his is nearly perfect!

    Thanks again for introducing us to this beautiful piece.

  • What a beautiful piece of music! It is incredible what undiscovered treasures are still out there. Thanks so much for uncovering them! The horn “performance” is just splendid and extremely expressive. Did you do all this with velocity crossfade or where sampled dynamics involved?

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    Hi William

    Thank you very very much for your very helpful hints. You are absolutly right in absolutly every aspect you pointed on. I hope I have fixed all right now. as far as I am able to (replaced th dimension ptrill with Chamberstring recorded trills, made the horn play much more nonlegato up to staccato especially when it comes to fast passages in the second movement and tried to ad a few breathing pauses where it seems to me reasonable.

    It is great to have such an insightful feedback from someone who knows to play the Horn. Yes I am concerning the Art to play the horn an absolute "greenhorn". However, the Concerto seems to me still compared with other hornconcertos even up to Mozarts Masterworks extraoridnary demanding aswell concerning the large tonerange as concerning the brilliant figuration of the second movement. And yes I am sure real Hornplayers simply think this and the tempo I choose for are far from bing realisable on any horn not to talk about the naturehorn. 

    Here we come to a very sensible Question. Must we with the nearly endless power of modern digital instruments always be limited by the technical weakness of traditional Instruments and their players?

    I would think as far the musical language learn from that limits how to breath musical reasonable, how to correspond the articulation, tempo and dynamic to the emotional reaction of the player to the music, yes than we should follow what good traditional would do in those situations and this means very much we should know and learn (that's why I am very thankful for your great hints).

    But not all technical limits of traditional instruments are always really musical reasonable. As the outstanding Virtuoso must always be allowed to choose other tempi than others if it makes his performance more exciting or intensive simply because he is able to, so we should always be ready also to say yes to what digital instruments might do well or even sometimes better than the traditional instrumentatlists before. That's the reason why I decided to keep a tempo which I myself would expect not to be realistic for by far the most who play any kind of horn at all, just because with VSL I am able to and like it 😃. But I am sure this is a very sensible discussion and I accept, that others may think different.

    Thank you again alot for your great help.

  • A wonderful musical discovery and midi realization of it.  My blood pressure goes down and calmness/serenity wash over me when I hear beautiful music like this.  Continue to bring forward these hidden gems!


  • Hello Steffen

    You are right that playing within normal limits is not absolutely needed.  I seem to be making things deliberately limited in my own performances because those limitations sound more realistic, such as intonation imperfections, timing inaccuracy, etc.  I have been pushing it farther with those inaccuracies because I am fascinated with the effect.  In particular I notice that extreme detuning is almost normal sounding for strings, but with woodwinds sounds like an elementary school band.  So I am experimenting with all the "limitations" of players.

    On this piece I don't think the tempo is wrong, and a virtuoso could do it at least with those additional articulations we were discussing.  Anyway it is a great piece and amazing how such a good composer is so forgotten today.  Your recording is very valuable in bringing him to light.  

  • Hi Steffen,

    Again very beautiful music with an announcement of the Manheimer Schule. I'm very fond of the orchestral approach. The presented concerto isn't quite a clear example of it, but the Mannheimer germ is already there.

    Very fine music indeed, rendered in the best tradition of historic performance. That's on itself enough for a big applause. As to the horn performance... I can't take part in that discussion, because complete ignorant. I'm inclined to follow William, but you have a point too. Still, if one would get at the maximum reachable of an instrument (with samples), I then would logically prefer the modern instrument and not the historic (and therefore limited) one. In modern times, conductors tend to raise the tempi to the limits of the performers. E.g. 'allegro' doesn't say anything about the speed, only about the spirit (merry, cheerful) and has probably more to do with the way of playing than with the tempo. I assume that the allegro was played a lot slower in Abel's time. (Nobody was so much in a hurry then...) But of course that's your choice and a horn player like William sees the practical difficulties with that kind of speed. Let's take it for granted that Abel was very well aware of that, even if he had the best horn players at his disposal.

    This is merely a reflection on historic performance and writing technique for a solo instrument. That doesn't say anything about your very skilled and beautiful rendition of again an unknown work. We must praise ourselves to be brought these gems to our ears without leaving our seats... Thank you for that!!!


    PS: How on earth are you able of performing all these movements in such a short delay? I would have needed at least 10 times more time... Do you play every single part in with your keyboard? What about the quantisation then? Is your DAW accurate enough to record more or les waht you're playing? It would be impossible with mine anyway.

  • Thank you Max for your friendly, detailed and careful discussion. It will make me more aaware of limts to keep in mind, when realising my understanding of unknown music.

    You ask how I am able to realise that much music that fast. How can I answer, there are many steps in realising which  I designed for me concertrated and optimized on the musical relevant decisions to be made Following a System I am able to apply in nearly most kinds of VSL-project I do, which made things a bit easier in the last years. This might at least be a part of the answer for your question.

  • PaulP Paul moved this topic from Orchestration & Composition on