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Mozart: Horn Concertos

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Performer: Anthony Halstead
  • Orchestra: Academy of Ancient Music
  • Conductor: Christopher Hogwood
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (13 July 1998)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: L'oiseau Lyre
  • ASIN: B000004CYC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,544 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
There are two ways of performing the Mozart horn concerti: you can either use a modern instrument or a natural horn. Their characters are, as is well enough known, very different. Tony Halstead has made many fine recordings on the natural horn and this is one of them. His hand-stopping technique is, as always, breathtaking and the recording captivates the joie de vivre with which he approaches his music. The Academy of Ancient Music under the direction of Christopher Hogwood never disappoints and the ensemble is beautifully balanced.

If your library does not include a recording on natural horn then you should definitely buy this: not only is it a good example of its type but it is also a perfect exemplar of the state of the art of historically informed performance at the time. Students of Mozart will find interest and illumination comparing this with the legendary Dennis Brain recording. There are technically better recordings now, the state of the art in producing period instrument recordings seems to have advanced somewhat in the mean time, but few recordings can match this for warmth and approachability.
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As a lapsed (failed?) horn player, I have several recordings of the Mozart set, including (of course) Brain & Tuckwell but Halstead's version is a bit special. The use of the natural horn (ie a horn without valves, where you use your hand in the bell to "bend" the note to fill in the gaps ), and his fine musicianship, way beyond merely playing the notes - turns this into something rather magical, and this magic is what music is all about. To be honest, a top player on a modern instrument can make them sound a bit easy, and losing the magic, but the extra colour and expression enforced by the use of a natural horn, and perhaps the extra difficulty makes the player put a bit more soul into it. I understand Halstead has made something of a speciality of natural horn / period instrument playing, and this certainly shows here. The band are also spot on. I only came across this one on Halstead's website whilst considering buying another horn and re-starting playing (he's a 2nd hand horn dealer as well as a top musician)

For me, this one is definitive ! Highly recommended.

Edit - some time after the review I finally did it and bought a horn from Mr Halstead - a very reasonably priced older Alex and very fine it is too. I can recommend his horn dealership as well as this fine recording.
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I am always doubly pleased to encounter a period recording that I can heartily endorse, as in addition to its intrinsic aesthetic value, it gives me ammo against anyone who accuses me of me an anti-HIP dinosaur, inextricably wedded to Karajan, Knappertsbusch and Furtwängler. I earn even more bonus points through championing here a recording conducted by one of my bêtes noires, Christopher Hogwood, who hear directs a clean, punchy performance from the Academy of Ancient Music mercifully devoid of period tics and exuding real sense of light-hearted gaiety in playing this most upbeat of Mozart's music, mercifully free of whining, clipping or rushing.

The recording s already over twenty years old and it interests me that it was made only just after a much more traditional but equally enjoyable account by Claire Briggs with Stephen Kovacevich conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. The "collector's favourite" has of course long been Dennis Brain with Karajan but that is mono from 1953/4 and most of us want a more modern sound, too, even if nobody else quite exudes Brain's devil-may-care insouciance. Anthony Halstead is a period horn specialist and plays two different copies of original instruments with slightly different characteristics: a reproduction of an instrument by Stöhr, which has a brighter, more rasping tone than the Raoux copy, which is mellower and more rounded, like a muted trumpet and used for nos 1 and 4 and the Rondo K514 completed by Süssmayr. His tempi are sometimes very slightly brisker than we are used to but hardly noticeably so and if one misses the cleaner articulation a modern instrument can give the famous "hunting" Rondo of K495, the more flatulent sound of the authentic valveless horn is beguiling in its own way, especially when played with wit and charm. Halstead has a lovely smooth legato, too, sitting elegantly with Hogwood's unobtrusive, light-on-its-feet accompaniment.

Lovely stuff.
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I received the CD had painted Horn in the lower half of front picture that was different from amazon home page.
But The CD had made Decca Records.Music tempo well and the ensemble is beautifully balanced. you'll listen comfortably until the end.
The CD had been carefully packaged. Thank you for giving me good CD.
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