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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Concertos for Horn and Orchestra: No. 1 in D, K386b
(1791?) [8:13]; No. 2 in E flat, K417 (1783) [17:19]; No. 3 in
E flat, K447 (1784-87) [15:17]; No. 4 in E flat, K495 (1786) [15:47]
Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1709)
Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra in E flat, Hob.VIIe:1
Briggs (horn); Ian Balmain (trumpet)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Stephen Kovacevich.
rec. Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 11-12 January 1991. DDD
CLASSICS FOR PLEASURE
are so many fine and established recordings of the Mozart
horn concertos that any new one – or, like this, one that
returns to our attention through reissue – needs something
exceptional to recommend it. Given the availability of
Brain and Karajan on Naxos (8.111070), even low price fails
to enter into the equation.
Briggs is a good player, but more than that?. Take the
first concerto as an exemplar of her strengths and weaknesses.
After a fairly light-on-its-feet orchestral exposition
from Kovacevich and his players, the first thing to strike
one is that Briggs' trills sound forced and unmusical.
Further, her rather podgy sound makes her sound clumsy
in the faster passages. The finale of this concerto is
appropriately exuberant but the violins sound shrill up
top. Given the excellence of the recording team, Andrew
Keener and Mike Clements, this obviously comes from them
rather than the recording itself.
orchestra sounds more comfortable in the warmer E flat
of Concertos 2-4. The first movement expositions, though,
still tend towards the workaday. Briggs, for the slow movement
of No. 2, takes a decidedly old-fashioned stance before
adding the occasional flourish in the finale (à la Civil).
Third and Fourth Concertos vie for popularity in the public
eye. Briggs is musical enough here, getting appreciably
more outdoorsy towards the end of the Third's first movement
before retreating to MOR Mozart for the Romance. Again,
she adds her own sauce to the finale in the form of additions,
but they sound rehearsed and for the sake of it rather
than off-the-cuff. The Fourth's first movement just sounds
tired, with little or no tension to the lead-in to the
cadenza. The cadenza itself is fine, if a touch over-long.
The famous finale could be more full of joie-de-vivre.
contrast, Ian Balmain brings real life to the Haydn Trumpet
Concerto. Technically and musically, he puts Briggs in
the shade although both share cadenzas that ramble! The
sprightly finale is a good way to end a disc that brings
more than its fair share of disappointments.
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