Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Complete Horn Concertos and Fragments
Horn Concerto No.1 in D Major, K412 [12:48]
Horn Concerto No.2 in E-flat Major, K417 [13:35]
Horn Concerto No.3 in E-flat Major, K447 [14:53]
Horn Concerto No.4 in E-flat Major, K495 [16:27]
Horn Concerto No."0" in E-flat Major, K370b (arr. Tuckwell) [10:06]
Fragment in E Major, K.anh98A [3:13]
Barry Tuckwell (horn)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Barry Tuckwell
rec. July 1990, Abbey Road, London
ALTO ALC-1107 [71:20]
Musical Concepts have here resurrected another recording first issued on Collins Classics in 1991 and this is its second time from Robin Vaughan’s label. It was first reissued on Regis RRC 1007 in 2006. Collections of Mozart horn concertos are not uncommon; indeed Barry Tuckwell has recorded the four (plus) four times of which this was I believe the latest. In reverse order they were: English Chamber Orchestra/Barry Tuckwell on Decca 411 284-2DH or 410283-1 DH3 from 1984; Academy of St Martin in the Fields/Neville Marriner ASD2780 (4/72); and LSO/Peter Maag Decca LXT6108: SXL6108. Clearly he knows these works inside out principally as soloist but also as conductor. Indeed he completed the two movement Horn Concerto No. 0 comprising K370B and K371. It is a long while since I have heard the earlier three versions but this one at super-bargain price has alluring virtues. The recording is modern and juicy without being glaringly lit. I say this with some pleasure and relief having been surprised how shrill the latest EMI transfer of the Dennis Brain/Herbert von Karajan classic sounded. The Tuckwell approach is big-band and old-fashioned with no concessions to chamber proportions or original instrumentation. This is Mozart for a grand orchestra but directed and blown with evident intelligence and joie-de-vivre. For such a big orchestra the music remains agile and witty. The First Concerto skips along but is lacking in lissom exuberance. Also I wondered twice whether Tuckwell’s famed skills had faltered for that session – just two moments when the rapid patter of notes seemed to emerge with less than precise articulation. The Second emerged triumphant amid its wonderful musical ideas and the host of woodwind solos that lovingly wreathe and tangle around the horn solo. Vitality and acceleration mark the wonderful Allegro of No. 3 (tr. 9). The other pieces are similarly good to excellent. The liner notes are by John Humphries from the original Collins disc and by Alto regular James Murray who is always rewarding.

Rob Barnett
Alluring virtues. Big-band Mozart, directed and played with evident intelligence and joie-de-vivre.