Jon Boen, French horn; Chicago Philharmonic conducted by Larry Rachleff
Even these days, every now and then I hear something that is totally surprising. Reading through the program notes and listening to the first couple of tracks of the first-ever commercially released CD of the music of Jan Bach little prepared me for what happens two minutes into the middle movement of his horn concerto. After Bach (no relation to J.S., C.P.E. or even P.D.Q., as far as I can tell) has set up our musical expectations with a heroic neo-romantic celebration of orchestral sonorities and solo prowess, he kicks it up a notch by introducing quartertones into the solo part. But they only appear in the solo part and in no other movement of the piece. This seemingly out-of-place incursion of microtonality actually adds to the otherworldliness of this tragic movement which is a memorial to a friend who died unexpectedly during a morning jog. But, please, next time, give us even more!