Three Solo Pieces for Horn

Cees Nieuwenhuizen, Opus 56

After Cees composed the Sonata for Horn and Piano Opus 48 , requested by the horn player Hans van der Zanden, he was asked to write something for solo horn. He wanted Cees to use the instrument in all its richness of sound as much as possible. Hans gave Cees advice with this composition, especially concerning the possibilities of sordino and open sound. These three so-called Solo Pieces for Horn Opus 56 were performed by Hans during a concert in Saint Petersburg in the Russian Federation.

The first part is a Toccata with a signal theme, played fortissimo. It is in ternary form with a number of tempo changes and chromatic and enharmonic developments that ultimately lead to the opening signal.
In the second part Cees uses con sordino in the opening phase. The open and sordino sounds are played against each other, after which the piece develops into a large fortissimo theme that is somewhat derived from the first part. Cees finds it interesting to write long, slow notes because of the soft sound of the instrument. This idea is inspired by the beautifully long part played by the solo horn in the Rondino in E flat WoO 25 by Beethoven.

The last part commences with an extremely short introduction, followed by a tango. The short theme is continuously repeated, with a note being added or omitted. This creates a somewhat comical effect. As a result, the horn is not really done justice. It makes the piece almost ‵lame’. In fact, the horn player is unable to play the tango and runs away from the stage playing more and more softly. It is a funny find and it is not the intention to insult the horn player. The idea actually came about spontaneously and the instructions are all included in the edition. The more accurately it is played according to these instructions, the funnier the effect comes across.