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Horn Trio


CHARLES WUORINEN has been in fluent, fertile vein, composing copiously and composing well. In six April days, works of his ap­peared on the bills of at least five New York concerts; two of them were world premieres, one was new to America, and one new to New York. I heard three of the premieres; they were exhilarating pieces that left one re­gretful they were done only once. The most captivating of all was the Horn Trio (1981), given its first perfor­mance, last week, at a Group for Contemporary Music concert in the Kauf­mann Hall of the 92nd Street Y. It lasts ten and a half minutes. It is for horn, violin, and piano, and was played by Julie Landsman (to whom it is dedicated), Benjamin Hudson, and the composer. Their performance was cultivated, witty, and brilliant. The work's demands, especially on the lips and breath of the hornist, are virtuoso. Wuorinen has lately forsworn writing program notes, believing (so a program note for the Horn Trio said) "that the listener should simply lis­ten." I simply listened. The first epithet that occurs to me is "Haydn­ish," by which I would indicate a play of musical ideas so dexterous, inven­tive, and happy that a listener to them smiles with pleasure. The music -dances', on its way, changing gait sometimes at .a proposal from one of the three instruments, sometimes as if on a new impulse commonly shared. There is a seductive waltz episode. The work, in one movement, is "classical" in being a discourse on pregnant motifs, even on melodious themes. Excellently Haydnish is the surprise when an apparent close in (more or less) C proves to be not final: it dissolves; and there are two more turns in the path and a delightful stretch through which the players tripple merrily before the true, satisfying end is reached.

 -Andrew Porter in The New Yorker, 2 May 1983