Cees Nieuwenhuizen, Opus 48

It was Hans van der Zanden who asked Cees Nieuwenhuizen if he wanted to compose a horn concerto. At the time, Hans was studying horn at the conservatory and played horn parts for Cees regularly at his own studio. Although Cees was flattered by this request, writing a horn concerto seemed to be quite ambitious. Such a concerto should be written with the aim to perform it and Cees had the feeling that no one was waiting in anticipation for a horn concerto written by him. He did, however, see promise in a modest sonata. Consequently, in the course of the 1990’s I wrote the sonata in B flat major for horn and piano.

This sonata is a three-part work in which Cees uses the classical sonata form, with a first and a second theme. It is a tonal work consisting of occasional free and bitonal elements. Both in the horn passages and in the piano part a lot of chromatics are applied, which gives the impression of a free form. Because the main theme is not only connected with the transition but is further integrated in the second theme, the feeling of free form is further reinforced. The first part clearly suggests B flat minor. Here too Cees plays a lot with chromatic and harmonic passages, both in the horn and piano part. This gives the sound a free impression.

The second part is in A minor, with homophonic elements in the piano part and long notes played by the horn. It is in song form without a second theme, the piano purposely plays a subordinate role. This part ends with a small cadence played by horn.

The third part is a rondo in B flat major. It is constructed with a recognizable motive and is developed in the classical way with question and answer played by a piano consisting of rich and complex elements. After a while the beginning of the first part resounds back which is followed by an extensive cadence played by horn. By returning to the motive in the first part, a greater unity is created with the feeling that the three parts form a musical whole. After the cadence, the piece continues in classical form and ends with a coda. Hans van der Zanden has given expert advice and has expressed a number of specific wishes, which are incorporated into the sonata.