Mozart

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Horn Concertos; Horn Quintet*
PERFORMER: Pip Eastop (natural horn); *Eroica Quartet; The Hanover Band/ Anthony Halstead
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68097

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Even those who know these concertos quite well will find much to surprise here. For a start, they are programmed not in Köchel’s misleading numbering, but in the order Mozart composed them, with No. 2 earliest of all, No. 4 preceding No. 3 and No. 1 dating from Mozart’s last year. Moreover, Mozart’s manuscript of the opening movement of Concerto No. 2 is missing its later pages. Here Anthony Halstead and the young composer Zachary Eastop have replaced the perfunctory editorial ending in the old published versions with their own more convincing reworking of Mozart’s materials. Again, in the finale of Concerto No. 1, where Mozart wrote out the horn part but failed to finish the scoring, this new recording replaces Süssmayr’s posthumous patch-up with a restoration of Mozart’s original intentions based on a reconstruction by Stephen Roberts.

Not least, where most players of the natural horn seek to minimise the difference in tone of those pitches that can only be got out of the instrument by hand-stopping and tricks of breathing, Pip Eastop positively flaunts them, suggesting how Mozart may have actually relied upon the effect of a muffled note here or a chromatic snarl there to help shape and colour his phrasing. These effects are additionally exploited in the inventive cadenzas Eastop has devised (no Mozart cadenzas for these works survive), and help to characterise the Horn Quintet K407, which can sometimes sound bland, as a volatile and passionate discourse.Crisp playing by The Hanover Band under Halstead, recorded in a dryish but immediate ambience.

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Bayan Northcott