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Musical World

Richard Todd

  • Horn Player
  • Jazz


Richard Todd press reviews

"Todd, working in front of a jazz rhythm section, made it clear that he was redefining his chosen instrument’s role…Todd produced the kind of improvisation expected of the best jazz brass players.  The old question of whether classically trained musicians can swing never arose here.  Todd’s fine sense of phrasing – extremely patient in ballads, frantic and prone to chance-taking at the fastest tempos – was never stiff.  He seemed to find the right sound for every mood…Todd’s performance made a convincing argument for the French horn as jazz vehicle.  The only question remaining at the end of the afternoon was if there’s any other French horn player capable of the feat."

Los Angeles Times

"Todd is a risk-taker in this venue, reaching on his French horn for notes that only a trumpet could play, aiming for breath continuity usually attributed to a trombone, and making the human-voice sounds ordinarily the province of a saxophone – and doing it all with inexhaustible energy and bottomless affection."

The Tribune - 8/7/95

Sinatra tribute with Thomas Quasthoff

"Todd’s breathtaking facility with the instrument, not to mention his easy command of the jazz idiom, laid any doubt to rest with his first few notes.  His gorgeous, soulful and intensely mellow tone, his adept filling-in and the way he tore through scales were simply phenomenal."

The Oregonian - 6/27/00

"Todd is widely recognized as one of the premiere horn playing masters in the world today. He is in great demand as a soloist with various orchestras around the globe. Todd's versatility is evidenced by his recording and playing not only in noted classical settings but also with jazz greats like Woody Herman, McCoy Tyner and David Grusin. He has taken an instrument not known as much in jazz settings and transformed it with a rhythmic clarity admired by jazz greats everywhere...Todd played Mozart's Horn Concerto No. well as Rondo for Horn and Orchestra. Todd's soft caressing tone was hypnotic during both pieces. This California virtuoso has an impeccable texture that translates flawlessly during two of classical music's most impressive compositions for horn. Todd's technique showcases incredible feats of high register playing with transparently clear articulation. Expressive by nature, Todd takes his instrument to uncharted levels emitting tonal offerings of incredible appeal through both interpretation and improvisation...a suberb evening of music by four Austrian composers interpreted by a brilliant horn soloist in Todd."

Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, PA. &
The Scranton Times - 11/16/02

"What was Brahms thinking? The year was 1865 and he had this bizarre idea of the Horn Trio in E flat, an intricate, major piece requiring perfect balance from the horn with violin and piano. And, worse, Brahms wrote the piece a century before Richard Todd arrived on the scene. So where did he find a hornist willing and, especially, able to play ensemble with those quiet instruments? It happened at Sonoma State University, Saturday night..It was an equal partnership of the three musicians: Kahane, with his bright, well-projected tone; Batjer, providing a dark, straightforward, powerful sound; and Todd...Splendid, and that's a fact. It does not "credibly" register when you watch and listen to Todd produce a flawless sound, a legato no brass instrument has business to provide, many colors, imitation of the oboe, organ, string instruments, the human voice. Far more important, the blending of the horn with the other two, far less outspoken instruments in such a way that there is true ensemble, that Brahms' music prevails over what otherwise might become a big virtuosity show."

San Francisco Classical Voice - 7/23/02

"Hornist Richard Todd was moving in the graceful passion of the Haydn's Adagio."

The Los Angeles Times - 5/13/02

Santa Rosa Symphony

"Todd…executing the formidable horn part with fearless verve, from the “dying” cadenzas of the nocturne to the intense, soaring lines of the elegy and dirge and the impish impetuosity of the hymn."

Press Democrat - 2/25/01

Santa Barbara Symphony

"Todd reliably delivered a sound long on velvety phrases, with an overtly brassy timbre less emphasized."

Santa Barbara News-Press - 2/21/01

"Todd is a master of his instrument’s unique sounds, from richly mellow to bracingly focused.  His playing was often exquisitely gentle: I loved it when the horn was soft but perfectly audible in front of the orchestra’s fuss and hubbub."

The Santa Barbara Independent - 2/22/01

"The soloist was the sublimely gifted Richard Todd…the concerto is a rambling, melodic work, full of bravura passages which must give nightmares to other hornists but which Todd negotiated with blithe insouciance."

The Independent - 11/16/95

"Skip the checklist and rest assured that pedantic considerations such as intonation, beauty and ease of tone, et al, could safely be taken for granted.  Add Todd’s ability to play exceptionally soft phrases with superb smoothness…and you had the makings of a special stretch of music making.  Just in case anyone might still have doubled just how complete Todd’s mastery of his instrument is, he offered an encore of Rossini’s “Una voce poco fa” from The Barber of Seville.  Many a diva would be jealous of his panache and aplomb in solving the be canto hurdles of the chestnut."

Santa Barbara News-Press - 11/14/95

"Never have I heard more mellifluous tone that Todd’s delicate pianissimos."

Valley Voice - 11/15/95

Mississippi Symphony

"French horn soloist Richard Todd’s performance…was godsend fill-in.  A booming vibrato, through dark and sorrowful concerto, filled even the wandering corners of the…hall.  His eye toward the piece’s due profundity and significance was duly appreciated by the audience."


 Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra

"Playing with astonishing clarity and accuracy, French hornist Richard Todd identified with the piece’s heroic aspects from the start."

Los Angeles Times - 4/24/00

"If soloist Barry Tuckwell retains a reputation as the world’s foremost practitioner of the French horn, the world has finally caught up with him.  A younger generation of horn players (including the chamber orchestra’s own excellent principal hornist, Richard Todd) have achieved a technical perfection extremely rare in earlier generations."

The Orange County Register - 1/19/88

San Luis Obispo Symphony

"(Russell’s) Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra that premiered to thunderous applause…from the audience, the orchestra and conductor, the soloist, applause in the form of stamping feet and a shower of hundreds of roses onto the stage.  All of it deserved, and more, not only for Russell but for Richard Todd, whose horn was a signal at the start, and a leader and a companion throughout the sometimes torturous passages."

The Tribune - 3/6/00

Solo Recital

"Mr. Todd can achieve a pianissimo that makes you think you imagined a note.  There’s warmth in his low notes, his runs are seamless, and the total smoothness bespeaks complete control.  Mr. Todd’s ability to alter his dynamics drastically well into a breath is phenomenal.  To all appearances, he scarcely seems to put air into the horn, but that subtle note is there.  The heart-clutching sound the instrument has – in the right hands – came through. Mr. Todd leaps octaves like a gazelle in a dream, and he can produce some incredibly low notes that are still music rather than the raspberry.  To someone who loves the French horn, and hour with Richard Todd is what a bowl of black jellybeans is to someone who pokes around for thin in an assortment."

The Dispatch and the Rock Island Argus - 2/11/93

Spokane Symphony Orchestra

"Hornist Richard Todd brought a refined tone and cultivated musical sensibility…Todd proved a player of intelligence and refinement during the evening’s two horn concertos.  The elegance of his tone was perfectly suited to the suave classic lines of Mozart’s Concerto No. 3.  I cannot remember having heard the Romanza of this work played with such winning tenderness or with such responsiveness to the orchestral playing."

The Spokesman-Review - 8/5/93

Compact Disc Reviews:

Rhapsody for Horn and Orchestra: (SoSo Sol)
"a sonic treat...above and beyond anything else that is in the recorded repertoire...I was simply blown away. Get this CD!"

Calvin Smith, The Horn Call

"Richard Todd's immense talent is on awesome display in this recording...Todd's performance is not only that of a great horn player playing jazz; it is a great jazz player playing horn at the highest virtuoso level...He has really gone above and beyond anything else that is in the recorded repertoire."

The Horn Call - 8/01

Horn Sonatas of Three Centuries (GM2070CD)
"The compact disc recording is recommended as the top performance of the Josef Rheinberger Sonata."

Top Musicians Survey
(Guidebook to the Best Classical Music)

With A Twist (RCMJazz12005)

"One of the major jazz releases of the year! This is mainstream jazz at its best. Todd and his wonderful group highlight superb arrangements, heard via ballads, originals, standards, and swing. And to add to the great occasion, there is some really good news: the essence of the french horn sound remains...Todd's classical training comes through in Monks' sublime 'Round Midnight, with great arching phrases that demand the utmost of his technique and breath control...I am so happy to report its brilliance to you. Grab it!"

Audiophilia- 1/03

"Although Todd is quite capable of playing classical and pop, With A Twist is essentially an album of acoustic-oriented post-bop. This laid-back disc...shows how expressive a soloist he can be. Todd's approach to the French horn is comparable to what Chet Baker did to the trumpet, Stan Getz did to the tenor sax, and Bill Watrous did to the trombone; in other words, he plays his horn in a very lyrical and caressing way. Todd's cool-toned lyricism is something to savor."

All Music Guide - 11/02

"Richard todd has received significant plaudits as the best jazz French horn player..With A Twist well deserves such praise. This moody set of noirish peices showcases Todd's playing...pristine sound quality"

Jazziz - 9/02

"Richard Todd's French horn is front and center on the elegant"

Boston Globe - 6/7/02

"Richard Todd has stepped up to the challenge...this may be one of the most listenable discs I have heard in some time. It is a most relaxing experience. Heartily recommended for the light jazz crowd and anyone wanting to chill."

All About Jazz - 6/02

"a versatile French horn player who can handle straightahead acoustic jazz as well as pop, rock and European classical...Known for being extremely lyrical and having a soft, mellow, caressing could easily argue that Todd is to the French horn what Davis and Baker are to the trumpet, Bill Watrous is to the trombone, Lee Konitz and Paul Desmond are to the alto sax, and Lester Young-influenzed players like Getz, Zoot Sims and Paul Quinichette are to the tenor sax. If Watrous is 'the Stan Getz of the Trombone', Todd is arguably the Stan Getz of the French Horn."

All Music Guide - 6/02

Gunther Schuller: Three Concertos (GM2044CD)

" The disc opens with the virtuoso, darkly moody and vividly impressionistic Horn Concerto No. 1 (1942-45)…His handpicked horn soloist for the recording, Richard Todd, rises brilliantly to the work’s challenges, which demand musical intelligence as much as technical skill."

The Washington Post

Rickterscale (GM3015CD)

"This CD displays for us a star among jazz Hornists, exploring the medium to discover an authentic Horn voice.  Schuller’s notes do a fine job of placing Todd in perspective.  Schuller says, “Sit back, relax and enjoy; be stimulated, entertained and challenged – and amazed!”  I did, and I was!"

The Horn Call - 4/91

New Ideas” (GUNMAR GM 2010)

"Richard Todd, in his “New Ideas” is awesome…Todd has “rewritten the book” on the French horn.  This is a remarkable recording:  it should certainly be nominated for a Grammy in several categories, and should be in every record collection."