SCO e-news player spotlight - Principal Horn, Alec Frank-Gemmill

Alec Frank Gemmill © Chris Christodoulou

Principal Horn Alec Frank-Gemmill is the soloist in the Orchestra's recording of Weber's Concertino for Horn and Orchestra for Linn Records this week. After performing the piece during the SCO's Highlands Tour to Inverurie, Strathpeffer and Ullapool earlier this summer, he spoke to SCO e-news about the magic of Weber’s music.

Why is the Weber Concertino for Horn and Orchestra so special?

It is the only virtuoso show-piece for horn to enter the standard concerto repertoire. Weber's clever combination of tunefulness with crazy special effects (most famously multiphonics in the cadenza) is a winner and was also unprecedented at the time.

Will you approach/prepare for the recording sessions as soloist differently to preparing for a concert?

For concerts I tend to record myself a lot while preparing for them.  I'm hoping this method will also do the trick for an actual commercial recording... 

You performed this piece on a Highlands Tour earlier this summer. How important is it to perform a piece in front of an audience before you go into the studio?

This was the first time that I had ever performed the Concertino so it was really important to have an audience in order to develop an interpretation, and having three performances was ideal for this. Although I don’t believe in laying down a ‘definitive’ version anyway.

This is your first solo recording with the SCO. How much of a difference does it make to perform as soloist with an orchestra you know so well?

The great thing about performing with SCO is that I know what they can do.  If ever I'm not 100% happy with anything then I can say so immediately and - because they are the best - I know that it will be put right straight away.  This is absolutely remarkable and a real privilege for the soloist. 

Principal Bassoon Peter Whelen, who records Weber’s Bassoon Concerto this week, and also performed the work on the same Highlands tour as Alec, spoke about the lyricism behind the Concerto.