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The Early Horn

Ursula Paludan Monberg (horn); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen (Hyperion)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

The Early Horn
Chamber Works by Mozart, Graun, Haydn, Telemann & Anon
Ursula Paludan Monberg (horn); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen
Hyperion CDA68289   78.32 mins

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This is a celebration of the 18th-century natural (valveless) horn, played with varying positions of the hand inside the bell to produce notes other than the restricted selection available as natural harmonics. The most familiar work is Mozart’s Quintet – though even that is played in a rarely-heard version from an early printed source with cuts and changes probably devised for the convenience of Mozart’s aging horn player Joseph Leutgeb. There’s a good-humoured chamber symphony by Mozart’s father Leopold and a brilliant single-movement Divertimento by Haydn. The rest of the well-planned programme consists of chamber sonatas (mostly called Concerto because of their virtuosic nature) for horn and one or two other melodic instruments with continuo: one by Telemann, two by Carl Heinrich Graun and two anonymous works from the same manuscript as the Graun pieces and perhaps also by him.

The Danish horn player Ursula Paludan Monberg, thoroughly in command of her instrument, produces a miraculously smooth and agile line with secure tuning. She forms euphonious partnerships with oboe d’amore player Katharina Spreckelsen, violinist Michael Gurevich and recorder player Sarah Humphreys, while the continuo section of Arcangelo, led by Jonathan Cohen’s harpsichord, provides firm support. The recording convincingly places the listener in the room with the players, tying down the notoriously elusive horn to a precise spot on the soundstage. Excellent notes by Monberg’s former teacher Andrew Clark enhance the appeal of this disc. Anthony Burton

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