The works for horn by Louis-François Dauprat are almost completely forgotten today. They are jewels of chamber music of the time not only because of their enormous virtuosity but also because of the special cantabile in the horn parts. Almost all of the works on the CD are first recordings and the scores have also been mostly re-edited and will be released later.
The works for horns in different tunings are particularly interesting. This is still unusual today and very exciting in terms of sound.
From the „Quatuor pour Cors en differens Tons“: Op. 8 No. 1, 3, 4
Solo Op. 11c and 16b for horn and piano
Sonata for Horn and Piano Op. 2
Duet for Two Horns Op. 14: No. 4
Duet for Two Horns Op. 13: No. 6
From the booklet:
Louis-François Dauprat was a French horn player, horn teacher and composer. He was born in Paris in 1781 and died there in 1868. As a child he was a chorister at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. From 1794 he was taught to play the horn by Philip Kenn, a cor basse (low horn); first at the Institut National de Musique and later in the first horn class of the Conservatoire. In 1797 he was the first horn player to be awarded the premier prix. As a prize, he received a horn by Raoux, which is now on display in the Musée de la Musique of the Paris Conservatoire. After touring Italy and Egypt with various musical groups between 1799 and 1801, he played at the Théâtre Montansier from 1801 to 1806. Dauprat later decided to study again at the Conservatoire, this time harmony and composition. He also studied with Anton Reicha, who composed the horn parts for Dauprat in his quintets for woodwinds. From 1806 he was principal horn in the Grand Théâtre of Bordeaux and returned to Paris in 1808 to succeed his teacher Kenn at the Opera. In the same orchestra he became principal horn in 1817 (succeeding Duvernoy). He held this position until a dispute with the Opera’s management in 1831. After working for some time as an assistant at the Conservatoire, Dauprat was appointed professor of horn in 1818. In the orchestra of the Conservatoire, which he had also co-founded, he played as first horn from 1828 to 1838. In 1842 his pupil Jaques François Gallay took over the professorship and Dauprat retired to Egypt, where he lived until shortly before his death, apart from visits to Paris.
Louis-François Dauprat can be seen as the pioneer of the Parisian horn tradition. His compositions move stylistically between the classical and romantic periods. In addition to operas and symphonies, he composed a whole series of works for solo horns: horn duets, horn trios, horn quartets, horn sextets, horn with string quartet and much more. For horn players and the interpretation of works by Dauprat or his contemporaries, the Méthode de cor alto et cor basse (Paris, 1824) is particularly significant. 47 articles, 12 studies and over 700 exercises illuminate a wide range of pedagogical topics. No comparable work to this extent and this detailed description was ever written before or even some time after the publication of Dauprat’s Horn Method. It thus certainly occupies a special position in the development of pedagogy. Before Dauprat, the horn schools mainly described the technical aspects of horn playing. Dauprat, on the other hand, describes in his method all aspects of technical and musical natural horn playing (divided into high and low horn) and, in addition, hints for composers and teachers. Above all, the sound aesthetics of the different crooks, the almost chromatic way of playing with the help of hand technique, ornamentation ideas and performance tips are elucidated. According to Dauprat, the method was intended to provide horn players with an overall education. Although the valves for the horn had already been developed and partly used, this method was written for the natural horn. The natural horn lasted a particularly long time in France, probably because of the musicians’ ability to play the natural horn chromatically. The works for horn by Louis François Dauprat are almost completely forgotten today, but they are precious treasures of early Romantic chamber music, not only because of their enormous virtuosity but also because of the special cantabile qualities of the horn parts. Dauprat pushed the virtuosity of horn playing to a level that had been unrivalled until then. This is particularly pronounced in the works for horn and piano (Solo de Cor Op.11 No.3, Sonata Op.2), as well as the Duet (Op.13 No.6). In addition to the sonata form, the key of F major and the powerful opening motif, Dauprat’s sonata bears another similarity to the very well-known horn sonata by Beethoven (1800, Op.17): the piano part is also kept very virtuosic as an equal partner in the interplay. In addition, the horn does not play with the crook in the key of the work, as was usually the case until then, but often in other keys. In the Solo de Cor (Op.16 No.2), for example, it plays with an E crook, but never in the key of E major itself. The opening andante theme is in A major (notated F major) as is the following minore section in A minor (notated F minor). This was also possible due to the excellent natural horn technique of the time, which reached its zenith at the time. Dauprat used the horn almost chromatically. The different muted or open tones also produce very different timbres, which disappear completely on the valve horn. Dauprat demands almost adventurous combinations in the Duets for Two Horns (Op.14) and the Quartets for Four Horns (Op.8). In the latter, Quartet No. 1 in G minor and G major, the 1st horn plays in G, the 2nd horn in F, the 3rd horn in E-flat and E, and the 4th horn in C. This poses particular challenges for the players, but also gives the work a very special charm.
Translator: Jan Tazelaar
Instruments: Natural horn: Original horn by Lucien Joseph Raoux (approx. 1817) Natural horns according to Lausmann and Raoux, replica by Andreas Jungwirth Fortepiano after Conrad Graf (approx. 1830), replica by Robert Brown
Recording: 8-9 July 2019, 4-6 August 2020, “Solitär” Salzburg, Austria
Recording & Editing: Dario Zingales
Mixing & Mastering: Michele Gaggia – DNS Studios
Cover: La place Louis XVI (place de la Concorde) en 1829, by Giuseppe Canella (1788-1847)