Reviews

Ann Ellsworth

  “outrageous…splendidly projected”

-The New York Times

REVIEW OF SOLO ALBUM “LATE NIGHT THOUGHTS”
available on iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby
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Publication: The Horn Call
Author: Van Dreel, Lydia
Date published: October 1, 2014

Late Night Thoughts. Ann Ellsworth, horn. Keve Wilson, oboe; Kenneth Cooper, harpsichord; Ellen Hwangbo, piano; Daniel Khalikov, Kristi Heiberg, violin; Irena Momchilava, viola; Peter Weizner, bass; Drew Santini, baritone. No label.

Claude Debussy: Sonata No. 4 for oboe, horn and harpsichord, reconstructed by Kenneth Cooper (2001); Arvo Pärt: Spiegel im Spiegel, Johann Joachim Quantz, Concerto in E[musical flat], Perry Goldstein, Late Night Thoughts from the V.A.

Ann Ellsworth, New York area free-lance hornist has recorded a beautiful collection of interesting works for horn (or arranged for horn). Throughout the CD, Ellsworth’s playing is stunning – light, facile, warm and lush; she and her colleagues bring this varied collection of music to incredible light.

The world-premiere recording of a reconstruction of Claude Debussy’s Sonata No. 4 for oboe, horn, and piano has moments of contemplation, childlike playfulness, and shimmering ecstasy. Kenneth Cooper, harpsichordist, writes in the liner notes that Debussy had conceived of writing six sonatas for diverse instruments, but sadly didn’t live long enough to complete his vision. At the end of the third sonata for violin, Debussy handwrote, “The fourth will be for oboe, horn and harpsichord.” Cooper’s edition (International Music Company, 2011) draws melodic material from Debussy’s pantomime ballet, La Boîte á Joujoux, a 1915 piano scherzo, Pour les notes répétées, and his first set of Images (1905). The piece is a delightful work, and while we can never know exactly what Debussy might have composed for this group of instruments, this reworking of other works by Debussy makes for an excellent piece of music that audiences will no doubt love to hear, and musicians will love to play. On this recording, all three musicians react beautifully to one another, with Keve Wilson’s oboe playing a gorgeous counterpoint to Ellsworth’s clear, resonant horn sound.

Avro Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel, originally written for violin, works beautifully for horn (recorded previously by David Lee). Pärt writes in a style that he refers to as “tintinnabular,” exploring the complexity of overtones existing within a single sound, unraveling the patterns of harmonics implicit in the sound itself. The beauty of the music is in its simplicity, and it resonates in a deeply emotional, if not spiritual place in the listener.

In Quantz’ Concerto in E[musical flat] major for Corno concertato, Oboe, Strings and Harpsichord [c. 1740s?], Ellsworth performs bravely in the baroque clarion style, demonstrating her strength, range, facility, and style. Improvisation was expected of concerto soloists in the era, and Ellsworth effectively improvises certain elements in the final movement, according to the liner notes.

Perry Goldstein writes extensive liner notes about Late Night Thoughts from the V.A., composed in 2008. The poems by celebrated poet Richard Power convey the thoughts of a protagonist on his deathbed in the veterans’ hospital at 8 pm, 10 pm, 3 am, and 3:10 am. They dwell in uncertainty, pain, and terror, and the composer states that he attempted to match the mood of the poetry with a setting that is “simple, tender, wistful, and, I hope, consoling.” Drew Santini’s baritone is rich, nuanced, and perfectly suited to the depth of this work.

This CD has great musical variety, profundity, and truly excellent horn playing. Brava, Ann Ellsworth!

“Still Unvanquished”

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Publication: Huffington Post
Author: Peter Christian Hall

The opening act gave this unrepentant rock aficionado chills.I arrived to find a slender woman holding an eight-foot Alpine horn in a boxing ring. As lights dimmed, Ann Ellsworth embarked on a haunting debut performance of something called Still Unvanquished: Her wooden horn followed a score by composer (and ISC co-founder) Gene Pritsker to contend with a composition of electronically charged samples of a track she had previously recorded for him. The result wasn’t as complicated as it sounds. Meticulously planned and executed, the piece was as fresh and exalted as Alpine air.

 

Publication: Fanfare Magazine 

Author: Maria Nockin,

“It is scored for solo horn, strings, flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and piano, acombination that brings out the beauty of the exquisite horn calls played by Ann Ellsworth.”

 

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