Half of the horn parts in the orchestral literature are low horn parts. The sound and expression of the orchestra are enhanced and strengthened when those parts are played with beautiful tone, intonation, artistry and assuredness. Low horn parts present many technical challenges, such as: How do we make large jumps with agility, ease and accuracy? How do we play in the low and middle range with strength and projection without elevating the intonation? How do we produce smooth legato or clear staccato and evenness of sound over the horn's almost four octave range?
In my 18 years as second horn of The Cleveland Orchestra, I performed and recorded most of the Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Schumann symphonies, Strauss Tone Poems, and Wagner Ring operas. During that time, I constantly tinkered and experimented with low horn issues. I came upon strong principles of playing that have worked not only for me, but also for many students in conservatories and summer festivals.
My sincere hope is that my recordings and commentary will serve as a comprehensive resource to inspire horn players to move forward on the path toward greater ease, confidence, and mastery in low horn playing.
Producers: Eli Epstein and Jesse Lewis
Engineer: Jesse Lewis
Beethoven Fidelio Overture, Op. 72, Horn 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 3, Op. 53, Movement 3, Trio, Horn 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 7, Op. 92, Movement 1, Horn 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 7, Op. 92, Movement 3, Horn 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 8, Op. 93, Movement 3, Horn 2
Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Op. 125, Movement 3, Horn 4
Brahms Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a, Variation 6, Horn 2
Haydn Symphony No. 31, Movement 2, Horn 2
Mahler Symphony No. 1, Movement 1, Horn 2
Mahler Symphony No. 1, Movement 3, Horn 2
Mozart Symphony No. 40, K. 550, Movement 3, Horn 2
Schubert Symphony No. 9, D. 944, Movement 1, Horn 2
Shostakovich Symphony No. 5, Op. 47, Movement 1, Horn 2
Strauss Don Quixote, Op. 35, Variation VII, Horn 2
Strauss Don Quixote, Op. 35, Variation VIII, Horn 2
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, Op. 36, Movement 1, Horn 2
Wagner Das Rheingold Vorspiel, Horn 2
Weber Der Freischutz Overture, Horn 4
"In releasing his new recording, Eli Epstein has provided another incredible learning tool for horn players. The recording includes his spoken commentary which is practical and to the point, followed by exceptional demonstrations of the excerpts. Eli is certainly one of the great players and teachers of our generation."
"A resource like this, from a low horn expert and lovely musician as Eli Epstein, is an invaluable and exciting addition to every horn player and teacher's library!"
"Eli Epstein's Orchestral Excerpts for Low Horn is an album every horn player can benefit from. In each passage, Mr. Epstein's playing contains all the ingredients for success--beauty and evenness of tone, control in all dynamics and ranges, along with engaging rhythmic vibrancy. His explanations are clear, practical and reflect his tremendous experience playing for many years in top orchestras.
"Each passage is magnificently performed by the 18-year veteran of the Cleveland Orchestra in the sublime acoustic of New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall. Every performance provides a sonic paragon, a rubric worthy of emulation by student and professional alike."
"With his beautiful, warm sound and encouraging commentary, Eli Epstein has created here another incredible resource for all horn players. Like his book, Horn Playing from the Inside Out, Epstein presents this valuable information in ways that are clear, straightforward, and inspiring to listen to."
"A perfect sequel to (Krebiehl's) original horn excerpts CD...you would be hard pressed to find more nuanced, musically substantial performances anywhere. Every note has purpose, and every musical decision has a concrete, logical reason behind it."
One of the most challenging second horn excerpts!
Three and a half octave range!
How to create a smooth legato when going from low register to high.
Auditions, for better or for worse, are a part of any professional musician's career. Early in my career, auditions were a great mystery to me. In my junior year of college I was one of the top horn players at my school. Yet when I first started taking professional auditions, I never got past the preliminary rounds.
After a while, I realized that it wasn't enough to play the horn well. I found out that I had to learn my excerpts deeply enough so that they would work well "on the battlefield." I also discovered that I needed to learn how to pace myself, deal with unexpected circumstances, and keep the focus on me. With each audition I learned more. I gradually started getting into final rounds, then becoming runner-up, and eventually winning. Ultimately, I served on many audition committees and learned even more from the other side of the screen.
To begin let's identify the factors that are beyond our control at orchestral auditions:
We need to take steps to make ourselves feel as comfortable as possible in what can be an unpredictable situation. Therefore, it's important to identify the things we can try to control:
Some of what you read here may make more sense after you've experienced one or two auditions. Let's start with the preparation phase.