WORKS: Horn Concerto No. 1; Horn Concerto No. 2; Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
PERFORMER: Marie Luise Neunecker (horn), Ian Bostridge (tenor)Bamberg SO/Ingo Metzmacher
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56183 2
Sixty years separate the two Strauss horn concertos. Curiously, it is the second one which more convincingly exudes the spirit of youthfulness, only occasionally shaded by the clouds which dominated Strauss’s oeuvre after the iron curtain of postwar gloom descended. Marie Luise Neunecker is ideally fresh and optimistic here, while still sensitive to the middle movement’s rich vein of nostalgia. The earlier work, despite a catchy, boisterous finale, smacks of a journeyman’s exercise. Written for the birthday of Strauss’s father – principal horn of the Munich Court Orchestra – it is not so much early Strauss as inchoate Strauss. Strauss was being dutiful to his father, as Neunecker is to Strauss, but neither conveys much enjoyment.
In between, we are given a fine performance of Britten’s Serenade. Neunecker has here the chance to reveal subtlety and depth, humour and capriciousness, and does not disappoint. Ian Bostridge offers up a host of thoughtful and intelligent responses. If his repeated ‘dying’ in ‘Nocturne’ is less the picture of a tenor on the point of extinction than some recordings we have heard, then his moderation is to be commended. Christopher Wood