MUSIC / Manchester Horn Festival - RNCM, Manchester

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The Independent Culture
The 24th International Horn Society Workshop and the British Horn Festival have pooled resources to devise 'the greatest Horn event this country has ever seen'. No arguing with that, if Sunday evening's concert with the Goldberg Ensemble is anything to go by. And what an education for a non-hornist too - to hear the brassy, vibrato-seasoned tone of Hermann Baumann in Handel alongside the nobler, more discreet, yet equally consummate artistry of David Pyatt in Haydn, followed by hunting horns in a Suite by Mouret, a contrast as drastic as Bulgarian open-throated folk-singing and the choristers of King's College, Cambridge.

The second half comprised three works associated with Dennis Brain. Richard Watkins and Peter Francomb relished the judicious balance of poetry and recreation in David Matthews' Capriccio, Barry Tuckwell eased through Matyas Seiber's sub-Bartokian Notturno, and Michael Thompson made what he could of York Bowen's sub-sub-Straussian Concerto. Honours for composerly inventiveness went, perhaps surprisingly, to Giovanni Punto, Bohemian contemporary of Haydn, whose Concerto No 5 was delivered with modest virtuosity by Peter Francomb.