In their forthcoming performance at Southbank Centre Anneke Scott and Kathryn Cok will present an exciting and dramatic programme of late classical music for natural horn and fortepiano. We catch up with them in advance of the concert on 5th March.
How did you first meet and what brought you together as musicians?
The first time we met would have been with the European Union Baroque Orchestra around the turn of the millennium. EUBO was giving a series of concerts marking the new year in Madeira, which in keeping with the celebratory mood of the season included a number of larger festive works such as Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks and Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. Over the next few years we found us working on a number of chamber music projects including most notably The Etesian Ensemble. Quite often we would include duo sonatas in programmes so we started exploring a lot of the repertoire for natural horn and fortepiano which led to us performing on a regular basis as a duo.
What are you particularly looking forward to about your forthcoming performance at Southbank Centre?
The Southbank Centre is such an iconic building and such a major venue in the UK arts scene that it’s always a joy to play there. It’s been fascinating to see the area change over the last few years. The redevelopment in 200? seemed to bring a lot more people into the area and has changed the energy of the place. It feels much more of a bustling hub now.
Is there a piece of music you would pick out as one of the ‘best’ works ever written?
Anneke: I keep on coming back to Beethoven. I adore the way he seems to be testing music to its extremes. I’d probably have to go for the Eroica, but symphony no. 7 or even no. 8 comes close.”
And is there a work that is for you, emotionally, especially important?
Anneke: Funnily enough – I would go for the works of Delius. One of the first albums I had (it was a cassette which dates it pretty accurately) was a tape of Delius orchestral works. I just need to hear a few bars of “On hearing the first cuckoo in spring” and it brings back very vivid memories of my childhood.”
If you could programme your ideal Southbank Centre show, which artists (living or dead) would you bring together?
Anneke: “I would love to invite the Dresden Court Orchestra circa 1720 to come and play. The musicians they had were cutting edge and creating wonderfully colourful works, really pushing the boundaries of technique. The works of Zelenka, Heinichen etc. For horn players this looks like one of the first places to use hand technique (the technique of manipulating the right hand in the bell of the instrument, creating notes from outside the harmonic series) and it would be fascinating to hear what the Dresden players were capable of. A lot of this music is highly inventive in its scoring – exploring the colours available, especially with new wind instruments – but the virtuosity required never overshadows the beauty of the music.
What is the most played piece of music on your mp3 player or in your CD collection?
Anneke: I don’t think a week goes by without me listening to Anner Bylsma and Jos van Immersel’s recording of the Beethoven cello sonatas. I’ve always been a big fan of Bylsma and discovered his recordings when first learning the Beethoven Op.17 Sonata for horn and fortepiano as I had wanted to listen to interpretations of Beethoven’s music whilst avoiding listening to too many horn players! The other favourite at the moment is a newish album by a Scottish group – Concerto Caledonia – called “Revenge of the Folk-Singers”. This group, and this disc, defy categorisation, eclectic doesn’t really cover it, but this album is breath-takingly beautiful.
Kathryn: Phillipe Herreweghe’s recording of the Bach Easter Oratorio. I first heard it years ago when I was a student in New York. I had been playing a concert and was staying at someone’s house and afterwards they had put this recording on. It was the first time I heard it and it immediately grabbed me and has remained a firm favourite to this day.
Do you have any strange rituals you carry out before or after you perform?
Anneke: ”One thing which sometimes might be a little distracting for audiences is the necessity for horn players to be emptying their instruments of water. Often people think this is spit! Musical instruments are sensitive to temperature and humidity, and period instruments sometimes mores so – so for example audiences at our concert may see Edmund Pickering, the fortepiano tuner, retuning the fortepiano before the concert or in the interval. As horn players are basically blowing hot air into metal tubing which is often of a lower temperature the water in out breath condenses and leads to a build of water in the instrument. This can effect the sound of the instrument, making a popping sound, so we try and ensure that we drain any water as often as possible. With the many curls of the natural horn this can be tricky. One thing that helps is trying to make sure the instrument is “warmed up” before we go on stage so before a performance you’ll often catch me not playing, but blowing air into the instrument instead.
For more info or to buy tickets for Anneke Scott & Kathryn Cok, click here
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