Snedeker: Gallay's Twelve Etudes, op. 57

snedeker gallayJeffrey Snedeker, Twelve Etudes for Second Horn, op. 57 (1847) by Jacques Francois Gallay (1795-1864) (self-published, 2017).

Recorded: May 2017, Central Washington University by Allen Larsen. Natural Horn: Seraphinoff Classical Horn, 1989 after Raoux (Paris, ca. 1820). Valved Horn: Patterson Custom Double 2003

The name Jeffrey Snedeker will be a familiar one to any who pay attention to historical horn performance and pedagogy. Snedeker is a horn player (both natural horn and modern valved horn) and pedagogue of the highest order, and we have been recently blessed with another fine recording from him.

In his most recent release, Snedeker presents the Twelve Etudes for Second Horn, op. 57 (1847) by Jacques Francois Gallay (1795-1864). Gallay was a preeminent horn player and teacher in his time in Paris and his etudes for the horn still occupy a very prominent place in the repertoire that horn students and professionals tackle. The goal of Snedeker’s recording here is to present the etudes on the natural horn and the modern valved horn for the purpose of comparison and study. In doing so, we are afforded the opportunity to hear the etudes as they would have been performed by the composer and learned by his students, thus gaining valuable insight regarding technical and tonal aspects of the pieces. Likewise, we get to enjoy hearing them performed on the modern instrument and thus consider the differences.

The CD groups the tracks such that the natural horn performances and the valved horn performances run separately: tracks 1-12 on natural horn, tracks 13-24 on valved horn. This presentation allows us to hear the etudes as a collection, the way they were published by Gallay. But there is no reason that we can’t listen to the same etude, performed on the two different instruments back to back. Doing so actually highlights the interesting differences in technical challenges and the subtle tonal differences heard between the natural horn’s stopped notes and the open tones of the valved horn.

In addition to being a fantastic performer, Mr. Snedeker is a scholar who has contributed a great deal to our understanding of the horn during the nineteenth century. This recording is no exception. Snedeker includes meticulous liner notes discussing his choices of instruments, the rationale behind his playing style, the editions of the etudes consulted, and even the choices made regarding pitch (A=435 for the natural, vs. A=440 for the modern horn). It is valuable to compare the performances on the different horns, and it is always valuable to hear high quality performances of any repertoire being studied. Any horn player would benefit from hearing this recording, especially while practicing these etudes.

-- Eric Brummitt

Editor’s note: At the time of posting there was no one website apparently in use as Snedeker’s official page for CD sales. However, Amazon and others offer the physical CD and individual tracks for download as MP3s.