Retrospective focuses on master of French horn

Many pages have been written about how difficult the French horn is to play. Due to its tiny mouthpiece, it takes serious determination to be able to play the thing. Because it is so difficult to play well, it also makes it a less popular musical instrument. However, in the hands of a capable player, the French horn can be one of the most beautiful of instruments—though true masters of the French horn are few and far between.

One of those masters must be Latvian French horn player Arvīds Klišāns, who has been making his mark in the music world for the last half-century. Listeners who have heard the compact discs Latvian Millennium Classics or Latviešu klasikas dārgumi will have already heard Klišāns’ playing on the Andrejs Jurjāns piece “Bakarola.” Arvīds Klišāns Rīgas Domā, a full compact disc of his work released in 2003, is an apt document of one of Latvia’s many great talents.

This CD is a compilation of recordings of Klišāns at the Rīga Dome cathedral. All the pieces are duets with the famous organ (played by well known Latvian organists Aivars Kalējs, Oļģerts Cintiņš and Tālivaldis Deksnis). The recordings span the years from 1980-1998, and are taken from the archives of Latvian Radio. The organ and French horn combination, while unusual, offers some unique possibilities for the performers and the listeners, and leads to some very beautiful arrangements.

A range of different composers are heard on the CD. From the Baroque era there is “Andante” by George Handel. From the Mozart family, there is a concerto for French horn by Leopold Mozart and “Larghetto” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. And, for those seeking something a bit more modern, there is the “Missa muta” by Bernhard Krol.

The CD also contains a biography of the artist (both in Latvian and in English) by Vilnis Strautiņš that details his amazing career. Klišāns’ repertoire is quite diverse and he performs frequently. He also performs benefit concerts in churches, helping to modernize and refurbish them.

The recording is an excellent retrospective of the performances of Klišāns with organ throughout the years. So many instrumental talents have come from Latvia, and this CD shows that Klišāns is one of them. The beautiful interplay between the organ and the French horn is one of the main reasons to listen to this disc, as a French horn in the hands of a master like Klišāns is a wonder to hear.


Arvīds Klišāns Rīgas Domā

Arvīds Klišāns

Rīgas skaņu ierakstu studija,  2003

RS 041

Egils Kaljo is an American-born Latvian from the New York area . Kaljo began listening to Latvian music as soon as he was able to put a record on a record player, and still has old Bellacord 78 rpm records lying around somewhere.

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