Richard Watkins has rapidly become one of the most sought after horn players of his generation and is well-known as a concerto soloist and chamber music player. He was Principal Horn of the Philharmonia from 1985 to 1996, a position he relinquished to devote more time to his solo career.
He has appeared as soloist in the Royal Festival Hall, at the Barbican and abroad with conductors such as Carlo Maria Giulini, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Leonard Slatkin, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Andrew Davis and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. He is in great demand as a chamber musician and recitalist and has worked closely with pianists such as Barry Douglas, Peter Donohoe, Pascal Roge and Martin Roscoe.
Recent recordings include Sir Malcolm Arnold's two Horn Concertos for Conifer, to great critical acclaim, and Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with the Philharmonia and Giuseppe Sinopoli for Deutsche Grammophon; other recordings include the Mozart Horn Concertos with Richard Hickox for Pickwick and chamber music recordings, both as soloist and as a chamber musician, for a variety of labels. Recent releases include Gliere's rarely performed Horn Concerto with Sir Edward Downes and the Concerto for Horn and Violin by Dame Ethel Smyth for Chandos.
Richard Watkins is closely associated with promoting contemporary music for the horn; Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies wrote 'Sea Eagle' (solo horn) for him in 1983 and since then, Richard Watkins has given the world premiere of David Matthews' 'Capriccio' in a concert at the Wigmore Hall to commemorate Dennis Brain's 70th Anniversary and Nigel Osborne's 'The Sun of Venice' with the Philharmonia. Future projects include the premiere of Colin Matthews' Horn Concerto with Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Royal Festival Hall during the 1998 season and a Horn Concerto by Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies.
Richard Watkins is in great demand for master classes both in this country and abroad. He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music in 1992 and presently holds the Dennis Brain Chair of Horn Playing. He is also a visiting professor at the Royal College of Music.
"Britten 's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings was gorgeous and worked very well in the space. Neil Mackie's pure, clear tenor blended perfectly with Richard Watkins's outstanding horn playing. It was in fact one of the most memorable performances of the work I've heard, not a fluff from the horn, exquisite sounds even at the very top of the range, and a pleasing tightness to the work as a whole. "- Glasgow Herald, Oct. '93
".... Arnold is much more than a dazzling composer of "light" music and film scores. Michael Collins and Richard Watkins, Philharmonia principal clarinet and horn, are breathtaking in these works, .... "- The Sunday Times, Nov. '93
"Richard Watkins, Principal Horn of the Philharmonia, plays it (Arnold Horn Concerto No. 1) with great panache and glorious tone. "- Gramophone, Dec. '93
"Richard Watkins boarded the difficult Horn Elegy (Poulenc) with rare confidence" - Financial Times, 1993
"... its harmonic asperity cushioned in the golden glow of Richard Watkins's eloquent playing" - The Times, 1993
"Richard Watkins played with the ineffable beauty of a master, with a splendid legato, unbroken and beautifully judged phrasing, and always lovely tone - golden notes wrapped in velvet. " - Yorkshire Post
"The horn obligato of Richard Watkins was excellently characterized, with one of the fleetest and most elegantly turned evocations of Ben Jonson 's 'Queen and huntress ' one could hope for" - Independent
"... the latest player to inherit Brain's position in the Philharmonia, Richard Watkins, took pride of place and seemed often inspired to great things by the occasion. Immediately, in Poulenc's Elegie, he produced a variety of tone, colours and attack that did full justice to this unsettled angular music ... " - The Guardian