James Levine, conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, told me several years ago that I should pay attention to the remarkable horn performances given at the symphony concerts of James Sommerville. I was so impressed with this player’s skills and artistic imagination that I decided to write a concerto for him.Many ideas swarmed through my mind, some of which I sketched out and he had the kindness to come to New York City and play them over so beautifully that I got busy with the score in 2006 in New York City.
The work is formed of a number of short sections presenting the many different facets of the horn, which are most remarkable and beautiful.
Elliott Carter, September 5, 2007
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer
"…a jubilant celebration of this 'peculiar instrument' (Carter’s phrase), with the solo gymnastics magically tinctured by a rainbow of wonders, from tutti shrieks and a percussion salsa to whispers of vibraphone and muted brass."
The Times (UK)
"...lucid in its mix of sonorities, rhythmically vital, brilliant in exploiting the horn's resources and outgoing in a way that befits a concerto."
"…identified Carter's innate feel for instrumental timbre, his ability to tap, through his characteristic blend of complexity and clarity, the distinctive personality that an instrument possesses."
Daily Telegraph (UK)
"Carter gives the soloist a workout in some rapid figurations, but the dominant character of this piece is surprisingly lyrical… He uses the horn's long solo lines as opportunities for vivid experiments in timbre, as if challenging the soloist to see how many masks he can don in quick succession. Sommerville rose gamely to the challenge, navigating the passagework with apparent ease and demonstrating a wide kaleidoscope of tone, by turns powerfully focused, darkly veiled, raspy and aggressive, and brightly gleaming."
The Boston Globe