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Work of the Week – Huw Watkins: Horn Concerto

The horn is rarely heard alone in the orchestra and usually in the background: It sits in pairs or in the quartet at the back left. But in a solo concerto such as the new Horn Concerto by Huw Watkins, it makes its grand entrance. At the world premiere on 7 April 2024 in Saffron Walden, England, Ben Goldscheider will be the soloist in front of the orchestra. He will be accompanied by the Britten Sinfonia under the direction of Michael Papadopoulos.

The new 20-minute work was commissioned by the Britten Sinfonia, KölnMusik and the Canadian National Arts Centre Orchestra. In his Horn Concerto, Watkins scored the orchestra classically with two woodwinds and two high brass instruments, timpani and strings, just as Beethoven did.

Horn Concerto by Huw Watkins: Character study of an instrument

Two characteristics of the horn that Watkins explores in his new Horn Concerto are demonstrated in the first two movements of the work. The first, Allegro molto, emphasises the masculine athleticism of the instrument with wide leaps and fast runs. The second movement, Lento - Allegro - Tempo I, which is, in the composer's words, "golden lyricism", has a different character. Both reappear in a different form in the concluding third movement.

The two sides of the horn’s personality are qualities that I admire hugely in Ben Goldscheider’s magnificent playing, whose performances of this work I eagerly await.(Huw Watkins)

Two days after the premiere, Goldscheider, the Britten Sinfonia and Papadoloulos present the new Horn Concerto in London. The German premiere will follow in June with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie at the Bremen Glocke and the Cologne Philharmonie. The Swedish premiere in Uppsala is planned for September 2024, the Canadian premiere in Ottawa for 2026.


Further Reading: 

Huw Watkins: Composer Profile 

Horn Concerto: Work Details and Online Score 

Website Britten Sinfonia 


photo: Benjamin Ealovega


Head of Promotion | Concert Opera Media Division

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