Mozart • T Madsen
Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos 1-4;
T Madsen: Invitation to a Journey with Mozart…
Christoph Ess (horn); German Hornsound; Folkwang Chamber Orchestra Essen/johannes Klumpp Genuin GEN 18618 71:27 mins
Mozart’s ★orn Concertos were written not in a group, but at intervals throughout his life, so their presentation here in chronological sequence (the Köchel catalogue numbers are misleading in that respect) makes natural sense. Since the early horn of the period was famously tiring to play, each concerto is fairly short, with a first movement usually lasting as long as the slow second and rondo-form third combined. Even Mozart must have felt restricted sometimes by the format, as the unremarkable K417 concerto makes clear. Its K495 counterpart duly impresses all the more; its finale was immortally satirised by the Flanders and Swann comedy duo in the 1960s, so that the gorgeous expansive glow of the Allegro maestoso first movement – truly vintage Mozart – tends to be overlooked. Christoph Ess’s high-octane mastery (he is principal horn of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra), plus warmly classy period-style accompaniments from the Folkwang Chamber Orchestra, together keep any trace of monotony at arm’s length during four concertos on the trot. The CD booklet tells us nothing of Ess’s thoughts (which would surely be interesting) on his use of a modern valved horn rather than the valve-less instrument of Mozart’s time, and mistranslates his words on the K412 concerto’s unfinished Rondo; far from supplanting Mozart pupil Franz Süssmayr’s version with Robert Levin’s new one, he here plays both.
Trygve Madsen’s Invitation to a Journey, written for Ess’s horn quartet ‘german hornsound’ and deploying the Mozart concertos’ various themes for each of the four players, is inventive, engaging, and a genuine delight. Malcolm Hayes PERFORMANCE ★★★★ RECORDING ★★★★
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