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Concertos for Four Horns

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 13, 2005
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 13, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000BRJY0Y
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,334 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DAVID BRYSON VINE VOICE on May 18, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This disc is perfectly brilliant, and I can't recommend it strongly enough. Strictly speaking, only two of the four works given here are concertos, the other two being standard orchestral pieces with prominent work for the horns. Haydn's is one of his early symphonies from his Esterhazy period featuring also solos for cello and violin in its slow movement and a long finale consisting of a set of variations in a kind of gavotte rhythm giving the spotlight to various other members of the orchestra, notably flute and viola da gamba. The Telemann `overture' is a suite in nine movements, along the lines of Handel's Water Music or Fireworks Music but with more pictorial and representational elements. The contribution from Handel himself is a short introduction and andante, suggestive of a formal occasion and with the introduction using material familiar from the Fireworks Music.

The real cracker is Schumann's short concerto, in the usual 3-movement layout. This was described by Tovey as nearly unplayable, but today's virtuosi seem to be afraid of nothing. They even restore some high notes that Schumann revised out of the score, and what a thrilling effect they make. The four soloists are the lead horn-players, American by nationality, in various European orchestras, and they cover themselves with distinction from start to finish. Four virtuoso horn solos naturally take the limelight off the orchestra, but the Sinfonia Varsovia acquit themselves splendidly, particularly in the Haydn symphony where the treatment of the instruments is more democratic and all sections of the band get their chance to shine.
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All of the pieces on this CD are simply first rate, but for me, the Schumann gem alone is worth the price. Its stunning presentation here is beyond reproach. These guys make this unbelievably difficult music seem effortless as they soar, literally, to insane heights. Virtuosity, thy name is the American Horn Quartet. And so what if the picture on the cover is of a natural horn? I think it's a nice touch.
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High spirits! Haydn's Symphony #31 "The Hunt" and Telemann's extended suite of whacky 'Musikalische Spassen' are all about Fun, about high spirits. If you don't enjoy this CD, you're obviously a horrid sourpuss. So there!

The Handel overture for four horns is a crafty reworking, by Handel himself, of a section of the Water Music. The Telemann Overture/Suite in F major "Alster Echo" includes some of the strangest and most 'experimental' music of the baroque era. A lot of it is pictorial, with the Bells of Hamburg, a village dance, and the Chorus of Frogs and Crows sounding just as their titles suggest. If Telemann's broad bumptious humor reminds me of anyone, it would be Mozart, especially the Mozart of The Musical Joke. Musicologists estimate that Telemann wrote over a thousand such suites. That's a daunting thought. I just read in the morning newspaper that there are thousands of Americans, fans of Mel Gibson I suppose, who sincerely believe that the World will end in 2012, according to a prophecy of the Maya calendar. Uf ta! How will I be able to listen to all of Telemann's 1000 suites in a mere two years? Let alone read that stack of books by my bedside?

This performance by the Sinfonia Varsavia is not on true baroque instruments, but the sensibilities of the ensemble are sufficiently attuned to the baroque to make it stylish. Likewise the American Horn Quartet plays on modern valved French horns; the four horners are the principals from four American orchestras. Perhaps it's another bit of humor that the cover of this CD shows an authentic natural horn, but it takes only moments of listening to tell the difference. The modern horn is mellifluously muffled.
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18 Comments 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Audio CD
As a long time horn player and fan of Naxos, this is the perfect recording for those music lovers who don't know the richness of the four-horn literature. It it indeed limited when compared to most other interumental ensembles, such as a string quartet, but this is the best and most accessible recording on the market to introduce neophytes to this sonic wonderland. The playing is exceptional, as the AHQ is a solid, professional, touring outfit, the balances fine, the interpretations solid, and above all FUN. Buy it. Enjoy it. Encourage your friends and children to learn to play the horn, if they dare and want to play like this.
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I just listened to this absolutely beautiful CD and decided to write a stellar review but I see many others have already lavished this great collection with it's due praise. So, simply put, I fully agree with and affirm that this deserves every one of it's 5 star ratings!

So worth the few bucks for well over an hour of delightfully beautiful music & heartily recommended by me as well.

Enjoy & God bless :-)
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This is a great, explosive album. The choice of music is, of course, fantastic, and the execution of them pieces is well done. I highly reccommend it.
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