Vivo marcato - Andante espressivo - Vivo marcato - Andante espressivo - Vivo marcato - Adagio rubato - Vivo marcato
6/8, C, 12/8, 9/8, 2/4
None, 3b, 1b
Horn 1: c - bb2
Horn 2: c - g2
Horn 3: c - g2
Horn 4: A - g2
Horn 5: c - bb2
Horn 6: c - g2
Horn 7: c - g2
Horn 8: A - g2
This piece was played at the Northeast Horn Workshop about a month ago. It is a challenge and would work great for any college horn choir. The piece is very tonal and may surprise many familiar with other Nelhybel works. It begins with a fast "Vivo Marcato" and goes back in forth between the initial tempo and "Andante espressivo" sections before settling into in a slower middle section. The piece goes back to tempo one and then climaxes with a sixteenth note against triplet downward progression to a unison "C" in bass clef to conclude the piece.
French suite starts out with a unison fanfare based on the C (horn pitch) harmonic series (main notes used are g1, c2, d2, e2). Soon after the ensemble splits into two halves, and the lower (5-8) and upper (1-4) sections alternate on the fanfare and accompaniment figure. This motif is the basis for all the "vivo marcato" sections of the piece.
The first "andante" introduces a lyrical theme in C minor in the first horn, again based on the first five notes of the C (in this case minor) scale. Horn 5 picks it up, and then Nelhybel harmonizes it with two counterpoints (so there is a theme in horn 1/5, and a harmonization in horns 2/6 and 3/7.
The second "andante" is again in C minor, but this time with with an initially descending theme, orchestrated more thickly (it is similar to the first andante, but quashed).
After another variation on the fanfare in the following "vivo marcato", the last slow section, "adagio rubato" is in D minor. The sections play canon-like, overlapping while presenting their respective material, before leading into a 12/8 (written to accommodate the notes that otherwise would have had to be written as triplets).
The finale picks up the opening fanfare with changed instruemntation, and keep spinning the material (except for an extended chromatic passage in the middle) until the end, where we find the above mentioned "sixteenth note against triplet downward progression to a unison "C".
There is very little bass clef in this piece, and all the parts look fairly similar. The respective horns of each section often play the same music shifted by a few measures, and taking all of this into consideration, the level of difficulty is medium rather than anything higher. With all the doubling, and the very hunting-horn like fanfares though, this is a very effective work, so advanced ensembles may want to include it in the repertoire for this reason.