Anthony Halstead, a living legend.
How amazingly fortunate was I to have Anthony Halstead as conductor and producer of these recordings? Can you imagine? For me, working in collaboration with him on this whole project has been the greatest privilege of my life. Tony is a living legend and he is my friend and he is my teacher.
As horn player, harpsichordist and conductor Anthony Halstead has been an international leading figure throughout the modern “historically informed performance” (HIP) movement. He has made over over 50 recordings directing from the keyboard or conducting. These include Beethoven and Dvorak Violin Concertos, symphonies of JM Kraus, concertos by JH Roman, Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, concertos by Vivaldi, the complete orchestral works of Johann Christian Bach, JH Roman’s ‘Drottningholm Music’ and Boccherini’s Cello Concertos.
In the UK he has conducted the English Chamber Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, English Haydn Festival Orchestra, Highland Chamber Orchestra and East Anglia Chamber Orchestra.
Outside his work in the UK he makes regular return visits to conduct or direct in Scandinavia, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand as well as making guest appearances worldwide for concerts or recordings.
Anthony Halstead made his first solo horn CD in 1986, recording Weber’s Concertino on the natural horn, with The Hanover Band, for the Nimbus Record Company. If you haven’t heard this legendary recording, you MUST seek it out! From a purely technical point of view it is off-the-scale of what is generally considered to be humanly possible …but it’s also beautiful, lyrical, musical playing of the highest order. To cap it all, the whole thing was done in just two complete takes of the whole work!
His other solo recordings include the Concertos by Joseph and Michael Haydn, and two separate sets, six years apart, of all the Mozart Concertos; one with The Hanover Band and one with The Academy of Ancient Music. On the modern horn he has recorded the Britten Serenade with the American tenor, Jerry Hadley.
He has been principal horn with the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, The English Concert, The Hanover Band and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
During the couple of years preceding the recording sessions I organised a lot of study time with Tony. We worked together in depth on such things as intonation and temperament, tempi, articulation, handstopping techniques, concepts of phrasing, cadenza style, and much more. One day I asked him why the end of the first movement of K417 seemed so disappointing, musically speaking. He told me it was simply because Mozart had never finished the movement himself and that if he had there would undoubtedly be much more of a satisfyingly virtuosic flourish and space for a cadenza. It took Tony just a few minutes to sketch out an improved, much more Mozart-like, version (entirely replacing the final section of in Barenreiter edition we were using) and we were so pleased with it that we decided to keep it in for the recording.
Any hand-horn player attempting to perform or record Mozart’s solo horn works needs one essential but sometimes fragile and elusive ingredient: CONFIDENCE. Without it one has no chance at all. I was aware at all times that Tony was taking great care to support and encourage me. For this, and for lending his musical genius and experience to the whole recording project and for his constant kindness and generosity of spirit, I owe him a profound debt of gratitude.