Rhapsody in Horn is a short concertino (little concerto) for horn and piano. It was commissioned by Jeff Thompson as a birthday gift for his boss Charles Sernatinger. Now what would a grain broker from Chicago want with a piece for horn? Well, it turns out Charlie is an avid horn player in the Chicagoland area and has performed with the Chinese National Symphony.
The work is very approachable for most horn players and incorporates three contrasting themes. Theme one is full of camp and should be approached nonchalantly in a sophomoric nature. Think of the light and playful style of Mozartʼs horn works.
The second theme, beginning at bar 116, is marked “Flowing.” Here we have wide open music that embodies the pastoral origins of the horn. The following Andante continues this sonority but in a slower and haunting fashion. The climax of the piece (bar 219) should be played with Mahlerian heart and soul. The horn gets the last word with a final statement of the pseudo shave and a hair cut theme.
The whimsical nature of this piece was inspired by e-mail correspondence between the composer and commissioner. Some of the suggestions for the title of the work (by Charlieʼs co-workers) included: Angelical Nap…inger, Charlieʼs Whimsical Angels, and French Rhapsody. The composer decided that something more conventional (and marketable) would better suit the piece.