La Musique de la Chasse Royale: Muzyka Krůlewskich Lowůw
Jean Joseph MOURET (1682-1738) Iere Suite de Symphonies - Gavotte (part 4) [3:23]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842) Iere Sonate [2:05]
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695) Trumpet Tune [2:42]
Jean Joseph MOURET Iere Suite de Symphonies - Menuet (part 6) [2:29]; Iere Suite de Symphonies - Allegro (part 2) [2:37]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Der FreischŁtz: Huntsmenís Chorus [1:50]
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759) Water Music Ė Overture [1:58]; Water Music - Alla Hornpipe [3:30]
? Carillon [3:02]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Horn Concerto in D [5:33]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Horn concerto in D major Ė first movement (?)* [5:55]
Jacek Smoczynski (hunting horn)
Quartetto da caccia (Anna Kaczmarek, Helena Matuszewska (violins), Julia Hanasz (viola), Cecylia Stanecka (cello); Jan Bokszczanin (organ)*
rec. Church of St Rosalie, near Szelkůw, Poland, October/November 2010 and Church of St Anna, Warsaw, Poland, 2004*. DDD.
Booklet in Polish, English, French and German
ACTE PR…ALABLE AP0218 [35:11]
 
Everything about the presentation of this CD breathes luxury with a glossy and informative 28-page booklet concerning which my only grumble initially concerns the very small print. Or so I thought until it came to identifying exactly what is on this CD Ė as youíll see below I canít say exactly what parts of which Telemann Trumpet Concerto in D, arranged for horn, or of which Horn Concerto in D by Jůzef Haydn are on offer. Whilst Iím being critical of the English section of the booklet, Purcellís Trumpet Tune also appears as his ĎTrumpet Toneí and Ďchapel masterí is hardly an idiomatic translation of Kapellmeister (p.12).
 
Look more closely at the small print on the rear tray insert and youíll be amazed to see that the playing time is just 35:09. Actually, my CD deck says that Acte Prťalable are underselling themselves to the tune of two seconds and thatís the timing that Iíve given in the heading, but that hardly prevents this being the shortest CD that Iíve ever seen, apart from a handful of jazz reissues of short LPs.
 
Nevertheless, the recording is valuable in at least two important respects: it offers a selection of the music of Jean Joseph Mouret and it allows us to hear it and other works performed on the hunting horn, the grandfather of the modern instrument.
 
Mouret was a prolific composer for the French court and a CD wholly or largely dedicated to his music is long overdue. Thereís very little of his music in the UK catalogue, mostly in elderly performances, so Iím grateful for the three selections from his PremiŤre Suite included here. They are, however, all brief, amounting to less than nine minutes in all, and serve only to whet the appetite, so I canít help feeling that an opportunity was missed to have brought us more, perhaps even a whole CD, or at least enough to extend the playing time to a respectable length.
 
Iíd have loved to have had much more of Handelís Water Music, too. These are lively performances of the Overture and Alla Hornpipe from the Suite in D/G and I enjoyed them almost as much of those of the period-instrument Kingís Consort (Hyperion Helios CDH55375) except that Hyperion give us the whole Fireworks Music and Water Music on a budget-price CD running to 68 minutes. One horn and a string quartet cannot, of course, match the sizeable wind and string ensemble (two horns alone) which Robert King assembled for Hyperion, but the result is surprisingly effective.
 
The Telemann and Haydn concertos also exist in a number of other recordings. Penalty points for not telling us which Telemann work this is Ė Ďa horn concerto in Dí, as the booklet describes it wonít do: a TWV catalogue number would have helped. What we are offered are a slow movement and finale Ė why not at least add a couple of minutes playing time and include the first movement? My exasperation is only increased by trying to work it out, deciding that it doesnít seem to be the best known horn concerto, TWV51:D8, then discovering from the booklet that my search was in vain; this is actually a transcription of a trumpet concerto. Which one, please?
 
I thought that there would be no problem identifying the Haydn Horn Concerto in D but, again, Iím not quite sure what we are offered Ė itís certainly not the opening movement of either the Horn Concerto in D, Hob.VII:D3 or of the second concerto Hob.VII:D4, as implied by Ďpart 1í in the track list and the explicit statement in the booklet that itís the first movement. Nor does it appear to be the adagio slow movement of either.
 
The booklet is silent, too, about the provenance of the Carillon on track 9; presumably itís by that prolific composer Anonymous, but it sounds like a modern confection borrowed from or in the style of earlier music in the manner of ĎAlbinoniísí (actually Giazottoís) Adagio. I have to admit to a very soft spot for that work, despite its slurpiness and its almost certainly bogus provenance, and I very much enjoyed the Carillon, too.
 
An earlier Acte Prťalable recording that I reviewed, Cantos de la EspaŮa Antiqua (AP0060 - review) was also somewhat deficient in terms of information and I made a number of assumptions that earned me a bit of a rocket from an expert on late medieval Iberian repertoire, so you will understand why Iím being chary about filling in the bookletís gaps this time.
 
As for the performances, the booklet describes the sound of the valveless hunting horn in combination with a string quartet Ė or with the organ on the final track Ė as almost magical and thatís a description which I wholly endorse. Not only is the actual sound beautiful but the solo performerís ability to stay more or less in tune is a bit of a miracle, too. This recording allows Jacek Smoczynski to indulge his love of the horn and of falconry simultaneously; presumably thatís his photo with horn and falcon to hand on the inside front cover.
 
The recording balance very much favours the horn, but thatís almost inevitable and certainly not inappropriate.
 
For all my reservations, and they are too serious to allow me to make a positive reservation, the final impression with which I came away from listening can be summed up as haunting. Iím sorry that thatís as positive as I can be, especially as MusicWeb International sell Acte Prťalable recordings; at least you know that when I do (frequently) recommend something that we sell, my appraisals are unbiased.
 
Brian Wilson
 
Very short playing time and too little information about the music, but a magic and haunting experience.