Obscure Music Monday: Tcherepnin's Six Quartets for Four Horns in F

Nikolai Nikolayevich Tcherepnin was a Russian composer, pianist, and conductor. Born to important wealthy parents, his father insisted he study law, which he did at the University of St. Petersburg, and received his degree in 1895. He composed during this time as well however, and earned a degree in composition in 1898 under Rimsky-Korsakov, and a degree in piano with K.K. Fan-Arkh.

Tcherepnin would go on to teach orchestra at the Court Chapel in 1899, a position he got due to both his talents, and high family status. He went on to teach at the St. Petersburg Conservatory starting in 1909, for 13 years. His career blossomed in many ways; he became conductor of the Russian Symphony Orchestra, and conducted at the Mariinsky Theatre.

Regarding his compositions, Tcherepnin wrote for many genres. He wrote operas, symphonic works, ballets, choral pieces, and  works for chamber ensembles, such as his 6 Quartets for 4 HornsThe first movement captures the lyrical abilities of the horn, as the lines are long and weave easily in and out of each other. The second movement, in 12/8 time, has more movement, but still very lyrical qualities. The third movement is a fun romp at a quick clip in 6/8 keeping the horn player on their toes. The fourth movement is a waltz-like movement in 9/8, with a cheerful, easy melody. The fifth movement starts out with a lyrical solo in the first horn, which then gets repeated by the other parts, and the melodic lines grow out of those themes. The last movement is a chorale, very bright and regal, and closes out the work nicely. This is a pleasing work to listen to, and brings out the beauty of the horn well!

Sadly, we can't find a recording for this work. We hope that changes sometime soon!

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