Trio Ulmian


CHRISTIAN DICKHUT: Serenade Op. 1 in D Major; Serenade Op. 3 in A Major; Serenade Op. 4 in D Major; Trio Op. 6 in A Major for Flute, Horn, and Guitar – Trio Ulmian – NCA multichannel SACD 60180 (2 discs), 46:35, 45:23 [Distr. by Naxos] ***:

If the name Christian Dickhut (died 1829) is new to you, don’t fret. It was new as well to hornist Ulrich Hübner of Trio Ulmian. He came across Dickhut’s music while seeking out compositions to add to his repertory. Apparently, Hübner was instantly charmed by Dickhut’s music, and you might be, too, if you’re in the mood for entertainment music of the Biedermeier period.

It was a time of musical titans, of course, but it was also a time when most middle-class families demanded easy-to-play music, known as Hausmusik, for consumption in the home and when princes demanded light music for the entertainment of guests. That musical titan Beethoven turned out both kinds of fare, which gets the occasional airing based mostly on name-recognition value. So here’s to Christian Dickhut’s brief time in the sun, thanks to this recording.

The combination of horn, flute, and guitar may seem bizarre at first glance, but played on period instruments, this music instantly explains itself. The mellow tones of the natural horn and traverse flute complement the quiet ruminations of the guitar, which is mostly used as harmonic underpinning, playing Alberti bass figures, arpeggios, and the like while the other instruments carry the melody. They toss the melodic lines between them in an amiable fashion. And, as the notes to the recording explain, “Dickhut’s works also thrive on a kind of the ‘gallant’ reduced melodics whose objectives are moments of pleasant harmony.”

While it’s obvious Dickhut was not in the business of making musical waves, the horn actually has some difficult passagework to negotiate, adding interest to these modest compositions. Dickhut played both horn and guitar and so understood these two instruments and their capabilities well—and didn’t balk at giving the hornist some challenges along the way.

Hübner, a student of Hermann Baumann, is undaunted by these challenges; his contribution to the proceedings grabs the spotlight. This is not to slight flutist Michael Schmidt-Casdorff, who plays very nicely. It’s just that neither his role nor that of guitarist Ansgar Krause calls attention to itself.

The Trio is captured in sound that’s warm and wide-ranging. Hübner’s playing comes from the extreme left of the sound stage, but courtesy of fine SACD engineering, he’s convincingly placed in the acoustic surround, seeming to sit somewhat behind the other musicians. This contributes to a very successful sense of balance: flute and guitar are never swamped, as they might have been when the horn plays forte.

So if you’re a horn fancier or you’re in the mood for some pleasant but undemanding classical fare, this well-engineered disc should fill the bill.

- Lee Passarella (from:


Flöte, Horn und Gitarre - was mit den Klängen moderner Instrumente als Kammermusikformation kaum vorstellbar scheint, wird mit den frühromantischen Originalinstrumenten des Trio Ulmian zur sinnlichen Erfahrung, und plötzlich ist verständlich, was Komponisten zu Beginn des 19. Jahrhunderts an dieser aparten Klangverbindung gereizt hat. Charmante, oft im Serenadenton gehaltene Trios solch unbekannter Komponisten wie Christian Dickhut, Defrance oder Luigi Castellacci schlummerten lange Zeit ungehört in Bibliotheken und bilden den Schwerpunkt des Repertoires.