Kurt Schwertsik (b. 1935)
Hornpostille, Op 46 (1983) for 4 horns
A horn-player himself by training, Schwertsik has written several times for the instrument in a solo or chamber context. Often, as in his Alphorn Concerto ‘in the Celtic manner’ of 1975 and 6 Stücke für Keltisches Naturhorn of 1976, it evokes the natural sounds and marginalised cultures that are both such important preoccupations for this composer.
Here in Hornpostille – as also in the more recent Kanon für zwei Hörner of 1996 – the horns are normal concert ones, but again they [remember traditional roles], each of these four short character pieces being based around a different form of ‘horn speech’: hunting rhythms in the first, yearning-filled sighs in the second, longer-breathed Romantic melody in the third, rounded off by a lively ‘outdoor’ finale in which horn-call chases after exuberant horn-call. Typically charming and to the point, the work thus gives voice to a musical personality whose individual tones often emerge through a deceptively traditional language.