Mozart: Horn Concerto No. 1; Horn Concerto No. 2; Horn Concerto No. 3; Horn Concerto No. 4; Horn Quintet

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COMPOSERS: Mozart
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Horn Concerto No. 1; Horn Concerto No. 2; Horn Concerto No. 3; Horn Concerto No. 4; Horn Quintet
PERFORMER: David Pyatt (horn); Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-17074-2
All five of these works were written for the long-suffering Joseph Leutgeb – a family friend and the perpetual butt of Mozart’s often scabrous humour. Mozart’s draft of the finale to the Concerto K412 sarcastically marks the solo part ‘Adagio’, while the orchestra has the correct indication of ‘Allegro’; and it has a running commentary of insults in Italian – the more printable of which include encouragements like ‘Your turn, ass, quickly, get on with it’ and ‘Have you finished? Thank heavens! Enough, enough!’

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These are not among Mozart’s greatest concertos, but they are written in a spirit of fun. This is something that, for all its warmth and undeniably high level of technical accomplishment, David Pyatt’s playing fails, on the whole, to convey. It all sounds rather colourless. After a while, one longs for Pyatt to let rip – even at the risk of producing a less refined tone. Much more successful is the performance of the fine Quintet K407, with its darkly scored string ensemble which has the violin outnumbered by a pair of violas. Misha Donat