In 1994, Gail Williams (then associate principal in the Chicago Symphony) commissioned Dana Wilson to write a piece for horn and piano. Ms. Williams premiered the work, "Deep Remembering", in Japan the following year and has subsequently recorded it and performed it many times. Ms. Williams then commissioned a concerto for horn and orchestra, which she premiered with the Syracuse Symphony in 1997. In 2002, she premiered the wind ensemble version with the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble at Eastman’s 50th Anniversary celebration of the wind ensemble.
The concerto is one of Wilson’s few works without some programmatic reference in the title. It is, nonetheless, a heartfelt work, inspired as much by Ms. Williams’ nature as by her beautiful horn sound.
All of the work’s material is stated clearly in the opening horn call. The first movement focuses on the first three notes—a dramatic ascent encompassing the interval of a minor ninth—and culminates in a solo cadenza. The very expressive second movement--marked “plaintively” in the score--also ascends, but takes a much more arduous course, relying on falling seconds and rising thirds along the way.
The third and final movement begins with a duet between the soloist and percussion, and gradually expands in terms of intervals and orchestration to its dramatic close. On the way the colors of both the solo horn and ensemble are fully explored.