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Catch Fire
Liner Notes

1. Fanfare à la Chasse - John Schreckengost

When Kelly Langenberg and I were planning our concert at the International Horn Society’s 50th Symposium, Kelly asked if I could compose a fiery short fanfare for 12 horns that tied into the hunting horn tradition.  I based this new fanfare, which I named “Fanfare à la Chasse,” on Dampierre's hunting call "La Retraite" that was played to call off the hounds once the chosen quarry was sighted.  I wrote the fanfare so it could be played on either valved or valveless horns. The twelve horns are divided into three "quartets." The first quartet is in G, the second is in F and the third is in D. The fanfare is dedicated to my natural horn mentor Richard Seraphinoff, who teaches natural horn at Indiana University.

2. Talismane - Robert Schumann

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

Robert Schumann composed his setting of Goethe’s Talismane for double chorus in 1849 - the same year he composed his two major works for horn (Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70 & Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra, Op. 86). The duality in Schumann’s compositions and essays represented by the characters Florestan and Eusebius also has permeated the Talismane. The boisterous and joyful outer sections have been juxtaposed with the intimate writing of the more reserved middle canonic section and the quieter peaceful coda.

3. Sinfonia from Cantata No.42 - J.S. Bach

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

Johann Sebastian Bach composed his Cantata No. 42, which opens with the Sinfonia on our recording, for the Sunday after Easter and was first performed in April 1725. The original was scored for two solo oboes, a solo bassoon, and strings. In transcribing the Sinfonia for eight horns, the solo woodwinds in the concertino group were scored for horns one through four and the string parts in the accompanying ripieno group were scored for horns five through eight. The result is an exciting, joyful, and virtuosic arrangement showcasing the talents of the players of Chicago Horn Consort.

4. Scherzo from Piano Quintet, Op.34 - Johannes Brahms

        (arr. Michael Buckwalter)

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) wrote his Quintet in f minor for piano and string quartet, op. 34, in 1864. It is a major work for this combination of instruments, and is revered by all lovers of chamber music.

Upon hearing it for the first time—I must have been in my early teens—the first thing I thought, when the “B” theme of the scherzo rang out, was “that would sound great on horns!”. Years later, I had the opportunity to perform Arnold Schoenberg’s orchestral transcription of Brahms’ Piano Quartet (op.25), and the seed was planted—why not a horn ensemble transcription of the op. 34 scherzo?!

After the CHC had been reading large-scale works for horn ensemble for a couple of years, I decided to try my hand at this daunting piece. 

5. Catch Fire - Joe Clark (CHC Commission)

“Catch Fire” loosely draws from the tradition of the caccia (“hunt”), which may have inspired the French chase and the British catch.  After an opening ritornello, a canon is introduced, falls apart, and leads to a paraphrase of the opening. Other canons follow: one based on a countermelody to the original dux (canon subject), another, a manic variation stumbling through different keys, with new comes (answers) interrupting the other voices. The ritornello sneaks back into the canon and leads to an antiphonal chorale based on the original dux. A flurry of “natural” horn calls ends the piece.

6. St. Louis Blues - W.C. Handy

        (arr. Kristen Sienkiewicz)

Since first appearing in 1914, W.C. Handy's “St. Louis Blues” has become one of the most famous, celebrated, and recorded jazz standards in history. The work has been recorded by countless artists, including Herbie Hancock and Dizzy Gillespie, the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Greg Osby. Whether it be the contributing to the thriving blues scene of Chicago, inspiring the rebellious British rock bands of the 1960s, or being danced to by royalty, St. Louis Blues played a major role in spreading the American blues tradition all over the world.

7. The Pasture - R. Thompson

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

My first encounter with Randall Thompson’s The Pasture was when my high school’s Boys Octet read it at a rehearsal. I never forgot the work’s charm and beauty, which is why I chose to arrange it for Chicago Horn Consort in 2012. The Pasture is a setting of a poem by Robert Frost from Thompson’s choral work Frostiana: Seven Country Songs, which was premiered in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1959. Frost would often start out his readings with this poem as an invitation to his audience to come along on his journey. “I sha’n’t be gone long. - You come too.” 

8. Lasst froh uns sein - W.A. Mozart

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

CHC has opened many of our concerts with W. A. Mozart’s six voice canon “Laßt froh uns sein” (“Let us be glad”). Months after writing the arrangement, I learned that the canon’s original title was “Leck mich im Arsch“ (“Kiss My Ass”). It is believed that Mozart composed this in 1782 as one of six canons to be shared with friends. When Mozart’s widow Costanze sent these canons to the publisher Breitkopf & Härtel in 1799, she indicated that the texts would need to be changed for publication. The twelve statements of the canon are played by twelve hornists on our recording. 

9. Alleluia - R. Thompson

       (arr. J. Schreckengost)

Our conductor Mary Gingrich encouraged me to arrange Randall Thompson’s Alleluia for Chicago Horn Consort several years ago but I waited until we were planning our program at the 2018 IHS Symposium to do so. Thompson’s Alleluia was commissioned in 1940 by Serge Koussevitzky for the opening ceremony of the first season of the Tanglewood Music Festival at the Berkshire Music Center and has continued to open the Tanglewood Festival on an annual basis.  My hope is that the listener will feel enriched by the horn octet transcription of this quiet and soulful work.

10. Secret Songs from MASS - Leonard Bernstein

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

Leonard Bernstein’s MASS was first performed on September 8, 1971, as part of the opening festivities of Washington, D.C.’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “Secret Songs” is from the work’s final section “Pax: Communion.” The music starts with a young altar boy singing “Sing God a secret song” to members of a broken priest’s congregation. The congregants' faith renews as they join the boy one by one in a song of praise followed by a duet between the priest and the boy. The music concludes with the heartfelt chorale “Almighty Father.” What is missing from our version is the concluding line “The Mass is ended; go in peace.” 

11. Adagietto from Symphony No.5 - Gustav Mahler

       (arr. J. Schreckengost)

When Dale Clevenger asked me to arrange a work for horn choir that would be played at a concert the Chicago Symphony played in his honor in June 2013 (the month he retired as its principal horn), I decided to arrange the Adagietto from Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 for eight horns and harp. This symphony was an iconic work in Mr. Clevenger’s forty-seven years with the Chicago Symphony. I wanted to honor this association by arranging the Adagietto, which Mahler scored for strings and harp, so hornists would have the option to play music from every movement of this symphony.  

12. Fanfare from Sinfonietta - Leoš Janáček

        (arr. Liz Deitemyer)

Czech composer Leoŝ Janáček (1854-1928) veered from his characteristic folk-based style for the multi-movement Sinfonietta. The piece was written for a state-run gymnastics competition and dedicated to the Czech army. Janáček channeled the occasion into a style with more pomp, ceremony, and militarism than was typical in his works. The first movement, Fanfare, was originally scored for 25-piece brass ensemble plus timpani. In our arrangement, we proudly execute nearly the same range, but with a single instrument! CHC was joined by Chicago percussionist Tina Laughlin on this piece. 

13. Sweet Home Chicago - Robert Johnson

        (arr. Kelly Langenberg)

Sweet Home Chicago is Chicago’s unofficial city anthem. Both the blues style and Chicago were topic of widespread popularity in a post-depression era.  Many versions of the song exist under many titles and by many composers, but it is Robert Johnson’s 1936 tune is the tune most listeners of today would identify.  The lyrics, quite simply express the desire to leave the racial oppression of the south for the more opportunistic city of Chicago. This arrangement, arranged for the Chicago Horn Consort by CHC member Kelly Langenberg, is a 10-Horn version with drum set, based on the Johnson version.  

14. Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Albert Von Tilzer

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

When fellow hornist and original Chicago Horn Consort member Matt Monroe asked me to arrange "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" for six horns to play as the recessional at his 2010 wedding, I opted to turn the music into a rumba. Although the original music was composed by Albert von Titzer to words by Jack Norworth in 1908, the song was not sung at a baseball game until 1934. Our guest artist Juan Pastor improvised the Latin percussion parts for our recording.

15. Ritual Fire Dance - Manuel de Falla

        (arr. J. Schreckengost)

‘”Ritual Fire Dance” is from Manuel de Falla’s 1915 ballet El amor brujo. The music depicts the young gypsy Candélas dancing with the ghost of her dead husband while surrounded by all the gypsies of her community. As the couple whirls faster and faster around a campfire, the ghost is drawn into the blaze and disappears forever. Candélas’ solo mezzo-soprano part from the 1916 version, which was not included in the popular orchestral score commonly played today, has been integrated into this arrangement.

Catch Fire Album Cover-01.jpg
Horns of the CHC

Mary Barnes Gingrich, conductor (all tracks)

Michael Buckwalter

Liz Deitemyer 

Jeremiah Frederick 

Anna Jacobson 

Kelly Langenberg 

Anna Mayne 

Beth Mazur-Johnson 

Mary Jo Neher

Parker Nelson 

Matthew Oliphant

John Schreckengost

Lee Shirer 

Phil Stanley 

Valerie Whitney 

Extra musicians

Kara Bershad - harp (track 11)

Tina Laughlin - timpani (track 12)

Juan Pastor - drum set (tracks 6, 13, 14)

Part Listing by Track



3. LD, KL, AM, JF, LS, AJ, MB, BMJ



6. PN, MO, KL, AJ, PS, BMJ, VW, JF,  MJN, LS



9. PS, PN, KL, MB, JS, MO, MJN, AM

10. LS, PN, KL, LD, AJ, VW, AM, MO, BMJ, PS, MJN, JF

11. AM, MJN, MO, PS, MB, JS, AJ, LD

12. AJ, PS, JF, KL, VW, AM, PN, JS, BMJ, MO, MJN, MB

13. KL, AJ, PN, MO, JF, VW, MJN, LD, LS, JS

14. VW, MO, JF, JS, KL, PN

15. MB, KL, LD, PN, BMJ, MJN, LS, MO, JS, PS, JF, AM

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