Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 1; Horn Concerto No. 2; Horn Concerto No. 3; Horn Concerto No. 4; Concert Rondo, K371

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Horn Concerto No. 1; Horn Concerto No. 2; Horn Concerto No. 3; Horn Concerto No. 4; Concert Rondo, K371
PERFORMER: Frank Lloyd (horn); Northern Sinfonia/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9150 DDD
Mozart composed all this delightful, witty and sophisticated music for a Salzburg colleague, Joseph Leutgeb, who (as has just been learned in documents from the Esterházy Archives, Eisenstadt) had been engaged by Haydn in 1763 for the Esterházy orchestra at double the normal salary and dismissed after one month. He ended up in Vienna married to a cheesemonger’s daughter and, being a sage man, kept the cheese business as an insurance for that dreadful day when his teeth would decay and he could no longer perform on the horn. Leutgeb died long after Mozart, in great poverty.

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These are extremely good performances. Frank Lloyd is a magnificent player and the accompaniments are by turns virile and poetic. I can think of no better performances on present-day instruments. The cadenzas, although brilliantly played, are occasionally in dubious taste. The arrangement of the finale in the Second Concerto, written but not finished in 1791, is by Süssmayr (of Requiem fame), that of the unfinished Rondo, K371 is by Barry Tuckwell and suavely professional. If you prefer the sound of original instruments – especially apparent with the solo horn, which in the 19th century required an entirely different technique – sample Hermann Baumann or wait for Ab Koster on Sony. HC Robbins Landon