‘From Dennis Brain’s Library’: A CD recording – a Music crowdfunding project in Tonbridge by Michael Purton

by crypto journalist

This unusual and delightful project was originally conceived by horn players Stephen Stirling and Tony Halstead who had located Dennis Brain’s personal collection of music, which is now owned and curated by Mark Andrews. During his all too short life, Dennis Brain accumulated a unique and fascinating collection of horn concertos, music for horn and piano, chamber music and scores. Many of these had been sent to DB by the composers and others he had acquired himself. The CD we propose to make contains music that is largely not well-known and in most cases unrecorded.

DB was a frequent recitalist, both in concert and in BBC broadcasts so we have chosen a fascinating programme, featuring music by British, French and German composers which reflect the various influences evident in DB’s playing, an Englishman who played firstly on a French instrument (Raoux) and then on a German horn (Alexander). We have included several encores he liked to play.

The horn soloist will be the superb Stephen Stirling, Principal Horn in the Academy of St Martin-in-the- Fields, also a frequent soloist and recording artist who has brought many unusual works featuring the horn to the eyes and ears of audiences worldwide. The role of pianist is being shared between Tony Halstead, himself a phenomenal pianist as well as legendary horn player and Kathron Sturrock, who is known to many of us through her BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, her many recordings and her excellent work in chamber groups such as the Fibonacci Sequence, which she herself founded.

The CD will be recorded between September 13th and 16th in the beautiful acoustic of the Colyer Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent. The recording engineer will be Tony Faulkner, one of the world’s finest classical sound recordists and the producer will be Mike Purton, himself a former Principal Horn in the Hallé Orchestra (where Stephen had his first full-time professional job) and one time Senior Horn Professor at the RNCM. Mike was also for many years on the Board of the British Horn Society and organised various events, including two Manchester Horn Festivals and in 1992 the first ever visit to the UK of the International Horn Society. The recording will be released on MPR, Mike’s own label, which has world-wide distribution via NAXOS and will be available in both digital and physical formats. Mike’s website can be found at www.mikepurtonrecording.com .

The programme (at least 75 minutes of music) is intended to be:

Alan Bush: Autumn Poem

Alan Bush: Trent’s Broad Reaches

Henri Büsser: Cantecor

Arnold Cooke: Arioso and Scherzo (Trio version – hn/vn/pno)

Arnold Cooke: Rondo in B flat*

Alexander Ecklebe: Sonata

Peter Racine Fricker: Sonata

Pugno: Solo

Saint-Saȇns: The Swan (encore item*)

Senaillé: Allegro spiritoso (encore item)*

Charles Tournemire: Fantaisie

Paul Vidal: Piece de Concert

*Not actually in the remaining collection but frequently performed by DB in recital as encores. The Cooke Rondo is hardly recorded but appears on many examination lists.

These items are nearly all from Dennis Brain’s Library, many were composed for him and most were performed by him. A notable item is Arnold Cooke’s own arrangement for Horn, Violin and Piano of his delightful Arioso and Scherzo for Horn and String Quartet (hn/vn/2va/vc), the latter version already recorded by DB in a live BBC recital. The trio version, made in order to make the work more accessible in performance, was sent to DB just before his tragic death and he never actually played it. John Burden performed the work many times with The London Horn Trio but as it was never commercially recorded, it’s a real find. The violinist in our recording will be Christian Halstead (Tony’s son).

Naturally, making a recording has major cost implications. It is essential for the performers to be appropriately paid, especially considering what a struggle the last year or so has been financially for musicians. Costs have been kept to a minimum. I have not included any costs for my services as project manager, producer and editor and hope to make something for my time through sales.

Prices are minus VAT,  I can reclaim VAT as my label MPR is VAT registered. 

Hall/Piano/Tuning                            £1,600.00                                                                   Engineering                                      £1,800.00 four days inc. mileage                           Musicians                                          £2,700.00   (4 musicians)                                         Artwork                                             £330.00                                                                     MCPS   Licence                                £400.00 (most items will still be in copyright)       Programme Notes                           £200.00                                                                     Manufacture                                     £900.00 (1000 CDs)

                TOTAL                              £7,930.00

Donations to date                           £3,750.00

              To be Found                    £4,180.00

I believe that this project is unique and has the major purpose of bringing largely unknown music to the public and of course to horn players. 

The CDs will retail at £13.99 inc. VAT (plus postage and packing) 

There is a sliding scale of rewards for the amount you donate.

PLEASE HELP US RAISE THE SUM OF £4,180.00 TO ENSURE THIS PROJECT GOES AHEAD – we shall be so grateful for any help we receive!

This content was originally published here.

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