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Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos. 1-4 / Quintet, K.452 ~ Brain [Original recording remastered]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , Herbert von Karajan , Philharmonia Orchestra of London , Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble , Colin Horsley , Dennis Brain Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble, Colin Horsley, Dennis Brain
  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra of London
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Audio CD (January 10, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000BPN24U
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,985 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Allegro
2. Rondo (Allegro) (K514, Arr. Submayr)
3. Allegro Maestoso
4. Andante
5. Rondo
6. Allegro
7. Romance (Largehtto)
8. Allegro
9. Allegro Moderato
10. Romance (Andante)
11. Rondo (Allegro Vivace)
12. Largo-Allegro Moderato - Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble
13. Larghetto - Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble
14. Rondo (Allegro) - Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sweet-sounding remastering of these classics September 2, 2006
Dennis Brain's universaly acclaimed Mozart horn concertos haven't been out of hte catalog for fifty years, but for the longest while the 1953 sonics were boxy and cramped. So it's good news that in this remastering Paul Baily has amde the orchestra and soloist sound sweet, even if the boxiness still remains. Brain's playing is uniquely supple and lyrical; future horn players like Barry Tuckwell brought more fire into their playing.

The Quintet for Piano and Winds K. 452 is also a fine performance. It dates from 1954. the only caveat is ot to mistake this reading, with Colin Horsley as the (very good) pianist, for another EMI recording, also with Dennis Brain on horn but with Walter gieseking as pianist. He was, of course, much more famous than Horsley, but the present recording is livelier in the first movement, where gieseking preferred the more usual slower tempo.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
As a horn player in high school, we were often asked to play from the Mozart Horn Concertos for State solo and Ensemble contest. Oh, the beautiful tones, clear crisp sounds heard from Dennis Brain are the best I've ever heard! It is unfortunate that this man's talents were removed from the world far too early; this recording, though done long before current stereophonic sound, is awesome and certainly should be first and foremost in all collections of those who feel they want the best of the best in a french horn player. RIP, my friend!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best mozart horn concertos recording available September 23, 2010
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there are many very fine mozart hornconcertos recordings, but this is the finest available. recording was made in 1953. dennis brain his artristy is impecable, beautiful hornplaying that suits this music extremely well. the philharmonia orchestra conducted by herbert von karajan delivers on the same height. the mozart hornquintet is of the same level. buy this disc!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Test of Time July 10, 2012
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Denis Brain's performance of Mozart's Horn Concertos and Quintet needs no endorsement from me: the fact that it has never been out of print for over 50 years is testimony enough of its greatness. What is wonderful is that the CD enables another generation to enjoy, appreciate and marvel at Brain and Mozart. Technological advances change the form of reproducing Brain's performance but the performance remains. I leave it to others far more learned in music theory to explain and analyze Brain's technique.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic which remains unchallenged June 5, 2013
Now sixty years old, these recordings have attained classic status and are unlikely ever to be surpassed for ease, artistry and musicality. While I was well aware of this recording, I had for years made do with a lovely bargain 1991 account by Claire Briggs with Stephen Kovacevich conducting on Classics for Pleasure. The playing there is lovely but Dennis Brain brings a special warmth and glow to his tone which exceeds all others'.

Obviously the mono sound could be a barrier to the enjoyment of some but Paul Baily's 1994 remastering has removed hiss and glare without eviscerating the essential character of the original; everything is a little distant but this is irrelevant to any listener with a will and ears to hear. The burnished, smoothness of Brain's sound, the flawless legato, the long-breathed phrasing, the aristocratic poise which never precludes depth of feeling, are all present in abundance; you sometimes feel as if Brain has managed to concoct a tone reminiscent of a kind of unearthly amalgam of horn and trombone.

Karajan accompanies in his most restrained and refined mode, directing the Philharmonia who play with impeccable grace.

The Quintet does not necessarily replace the leisurely version by Gieseking and principals from the same orchestra in a similar vintage mono recording on Testament, but Colin Horsley's fluid pianism is a perfect match for Brain's mellifluous ensemble. You have the chance to hear Brain's facility in coloratura. The sound here is more forward and seems a little more archaic than in the concertos but again, only audio purists will demur in the face of such virtuosity.

These performances may be picked up absurdly cheaply and belong in every collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Legendary pedrformances by Dennis Brain January 5, 2013
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Dennis Brain was probably the greatest virtuoso horn player of his time. These Mozart concerti show off his wonderful tone and his mastery of the material. This is worth having no matter what other performance you have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine horn playing February 11, 2013
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Beautiful tone, fluent articulation and fine phrasing. A good CD for any amateur or professional musician, to add to their library.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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This horn playing, the first I've heard from Brain, is astonishing. The nuance and control he has is beyond any other recorded horn player I've heard. I love all these pieces by Mozart, and all the players give spirited performances.

I'll comment on the sound as a somewhat picky audiophile with high-resolution equipment- you may want to know what you are getting into, especially if you also an audiophile. It's 1950's mono, which isn't necessarily bad in and of itself--there were some wonderful recordings in the 1950's with resolution and timbral accuracy. But this CD will require sympathetic ears. My guess is that the master tape's sound is a little muddy and lacking in resolution. You don't get a lot of sense of air around the instruments, and the piano attacks sound like "thuds." Most of the bass instruments, in fact, sound like "thuds." The good news is that the highs are very lively, which means you can feel intense emotion and discern timbres with some accuracy. But the highs tend toward shrillness about half the time. I don't know whether the shrillness was in the original analog master or whether that was introduced by digital processing. It is almost certain that the mastering engineer ran a de-noising algorithm after converting from analog. Unfortunately modern ears have zero tolerance of tape hiss, so the engineers remove it without even thinking. I actually think that it's far better to leave the hiss in place, because removing it always messes with the highs, introducing some edginess and unnaturalness.

Keep in mind this report on the sound is primary aimed toward audiophiles with high-resolution equipment. In most consumer-level equipment, like an iPod with ear buds, you wouldn't even notice the shrillness in the highs and you would be glad to have a lively upper register.
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