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On this album Hervé Joulain and Silke Avenhaus offer a romantic journey through the 19th century. If there are instruments that have left their mark on Romantic music, they are not to be found elsewhere than in the horn and piano. The horn with the invention of the valves in the 19th century offering chromaticism thus helping the horn to sing like any other instrument, and the modern piano, which appeared at the end of Beethoven’s life, with its double escapement keyboard that allows rapid note repetition and therefore more virtuoso playing. This precisely made it possible to express all the feelings that Romantic music demands of them.
The modernity of the piano is obvious from the earliest piece of this CD, Sonate op. 17 of Beethoven which seems to have been written exclusively for this new piano and whose horn part only answers the call. The second move reverses the roles and the expressiveness of the horn is solicited in this sort of slow march which, in this duet between Hervé Joulain and Silke Avenhaus, prefigures what this romantic journey will look like. The piano announces, supports, anticipates, responds, blends in or stands out and, above all, remains the inseparable partner of this common expression of desire. What could possibly be more romantic…? ESSENTIALS! brings together the quintessence of the composers who, during the 19th century, contributed to the novelties of the horn and piano, as the discovery or rediscovery of each masterpiece of this album attests too.

Thanks to his outstanding career, Hervé Joulain has presented the horn as a solo instrument in 125 different orchestras, with concerts of Haydn, Mozart, Schumann, Weber, Saint-Saëns, Strauss, Britten in numerous countries. He also has a predilection for chamber music which he pursues regularly with partners like Paul Tortelier, Pierre Amoyal, Vadim Repin, Michel Dalberto, Boris Berezowski, Boris Belkin, Pinchas Zukerman, Natacha Guttman, Yuri Bashmet, Gidon Kremer in France as well as in all of Europe, in Canada, the USA and in Israel.

Numerous solo concerts and appearances in chamber music ensembles have taken Silke Avenhaus throughout Europe, the USA and South East Asia. She performs with artists such as Antje Weithaas, Marie-Luise Neunecker, Tabea Zimmermann, Christoph Poppen, Jörg Widmann, Sabine Meyer, Quirine Viersen and Tai Murray. Her approach to piano and chamber music, characterized by joy and creativity, has led to numerous distinctions by music critics such as the Diapason d’Or, the Supraphon Award, as well as earning a nomination for the Grammy Award.


Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Adagio (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Thema (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Varation 1 (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Varation 2 (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Andante con moto (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Rondo Russien (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Fantaisie Op. 2 from Schubert Sehnsuchtswalzer: Più mosso (Franz Joseph Strauss)
Adagio & Allegro Op. 70 in Ab Major: Adagio - Langsam mit innigem Ausdruck (Robert Schumann)
Adagio & Allegro Op. 70 in Ab Major: Allegro - Rash und Feurig (Robert Schumann)
Sonate op.17 in F Major: I. Allegro Moderato (Ludwig van Beethoven)
Sonate op.17 in F Major: II. Poco Adagio, Quasi Andante (Ludwig van Beethoven)
Sonate op.17 in F Major: III. Rondo (Ludwig van Beethoven)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Introduction (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Thema (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Variation 1 (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Variation 2 (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Variation 3 (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Variation 4 (Richard Strauss)
Introduction, Theme and Var. in Eb: Variation 5 (Richard Strauss)
Romance Op. 67 in E to Henri Chaussier: Adagio (Camille Saint-Saëns)
Prelude, Theme and Variations: I. Andante maestoso (Gioachino Rossini)
Prelude, Theme and Variations: II. Allegro moderato (Gioachino Rossini)
Prelude, Theme and Variations: III. Andante maestoso (Gioachino Rossini)
Prelude, Theme and Variations: IV. Poco più mosso (Gioachino Rossini)

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Press reviews

BBC Music Magazine, March 2023 4 out of 5

Joulain and Avenhaus create a lovely musical dialogue with this set of works for horn and piano charting some of the pairing’s most glorious outings from 1800-78. From Beethoven’s delightful early foray to the later bounce of Rossini, it’s a colourful and expressive performance.

Joulain en Avenhaus creëren een mooie muzikale dialoog met deze zes werken voor hoorn en piano, waarin enkele van de meest glorieuze werken voor duo uit 1800-78 in kaart worden gebracht. Van de heerlijke vroege Beethoven tot de latere wervelende Rossini, het is een kleurrijke en expressieve uitvoering.

Luister, jan/feb 2023 4 out of 5

Hervé Joulain is een buitencategorie hoornist. Naast zijn werk als solohoornist in beroemde Franse orkesten treedt hij over de hele wereld op als solist…een hoornliefhebber kan hier zijn hart ophalen. Joulain schudt virtuoze hoorncapriolen uit zijn mouw en laat zijn instrument zingen met een warm gepolijst geluid…Complimenten voor de uitstekende pianobegeleiding en de fraai gebalanceerde opname.

Hervé Joulain is an exceptional horn player. In addition to his work as solo horn player in famous French orchestras, he performs as a soloist all over the world…a horn lover will be in for a big treat. With playful ease Joulain plays virtuoso horn antics and makes his instrument sing within a warm polished sound…Compliments for the excellent piano accompaniment and the beautifully balanced recording.

De Gelderlander, januari 2023 4 out of 5

Hervé Joulain (1966) laat duidelijk merken zijn ventielhoorn helemaal in zijn macht te hebben. En Silke Avenhaus (1969) stuwt met haar doortastende aanpak vanachter het klavier het ensemblespel tot grote hoogte….Imponerend is het musiceren in Adagio & Allegro opus 70 van Robert Schumann (1810- 1856). De aanpak van Joulain en Avenhaus ademt grandeur. Met veel flair storten de twee zich ook op Beethovens Hoornsonate in F, opus 17….Minstens zo enthousiast ben ik tenslotte over de opnamekwaliteit. De hoorn schettert en schalt alsof je naast de speler staat. Lekker fel en uitdagend. Tegelijkertijd streelt het instrument in de lyrische passages het gemoed. Het mooist blijft ondertussen het zangerig samensmelten van de hoornklanken met het fraaie, stimulerende pianospel. Als altijd essentieel voor optimaal kamermuziekgenot.

Hervé Joulain (1966) clearly shows that he has complete control over his valve horn. And Silke Avenhaus (1969) pushes the ensemble playing to great heights with her thorough approach from behind the keyboard….Impressive is the music making in Adagio & Allegro opus 70 by Robert Schumann (1810-1856). The approach of Joulain and Avenhaus exudes grandeur. With great flair, the two also throw themselves onto Beethoven’s Horn Sonata in F, opus 17… I am at least as enthusiastic about the recording quality. The horn blares as if you were standing next to the player. Very bright and provocative. At the same time, the instrument caresses the soul in the lyrical passages. The most beautiful, meanwhile, remains the melodious fusion of the horn with the beautiful, stimulating piano playing. As always essential for the best chamber music enjoyment.

OpusKlassiek, december 2022

Het spel van de beide musici is van hoog gehalte en deze uitgave daarom zeker een aanwinst: er wordt met verve en technisch meesterschap (zeker de beheersing van de natuurhoorn is een vak apart) gemusiceerd…Tom Peeters zorgde voor een zo natuurgetrouw mogelijke registratie. Hoornspel opnemen is altijd lastig: het kan als een windvlaag de microfoons binnenvliegen…


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