Stephen Stirling – London

7 September 2023
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

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7 September
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London

‘The music is thoroughly convincing at all times and I was struck by the assurance with which Taylor writes for the orchestra’ Music Web International

From Scarlatti via Mozart and Britten to The Beatles, the French horn has been used to add the emotional heart to compositions. Like the human voice, the ‘cello of the brass section’ can be heroic, romantic, soothing, yearning, joyful – and everything in between. The Academy of St Martin in the Fields (ASMF) celebrates this versatile instrument in September in a concert featuring two works, written 260 years apart, that allow this beautiful instrument to shine. One of these, the second horn concerto by Matthew Taylor in its world premiere, will be performed by Stephen Stirling, the player who inspired it.

Matthew Taylor’s imaginative Horn Concerto No.2 channels both Haydn and Arnold with its singing allegro and rollicking finale, while the delicate intermezzo has shades of Brahms. The final movement – an animated conversation piece for horn, oboe and cor Anglais – will raise a smile with its Laurel-and-Hardy-esque sign off. Written for his friend and ASMF member Stephen Stirling, Matthew commented: ‘I have always felt that Steve was the most poetic of horn players and much of the concerto tries to reflect this’. This is a work that will intrigue and entertain in equal measure. It has been paired with Haydn’s ‘Philosopher’ symphony where the horns play a prominent role in a ‘debate’ with the cor Anglais, a moment of orchestration unique amongst Haydn’s symphonies.


Grieg: Holberg Suite
Matthew Taylor: Horn Concerto No.2 – world premiere
Philip Herbert: Elegy: In Memoriam – Stephen Lawrence 
Shaw: Entr’acte: A Minuet & Trio
Haydn: Symphony in Eb major No.22 ‘Philosopher’