The horn has undergone a few transitions from the posthorn to the modern-day French horn. This wonderful box set covers most of these developments, showcasing as it does music spanning four centuries: composers presented here were active between the 17th and the 20th century. Yes, there have been well-known compositions along the way, most represented in this box. There also is a lot of lesser-known but equally attractive works which deserve recognition and which are included here. Many of the recordings have been licensed from the Edel stable of recordings (the company owns the Berlin Classics record label), but also Olympia, Naxos, Hänssler and Brilliant’s own recordings. The result is a really useful and enjoyable collection, which will fill gaps in collections and introduce new composers.
The Edel discs are marked by the inclusion of many recordings by Peter Damm. He has been principal horn of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and the Dresden Staatskapelle, and is regarded as one of the greatest horn players of his generation. He is represented on four discs with music ranging from the baroque to the romantic repertoire. There are some fine recordings here, but surprisingly not the Richard Strauss concertos, of which Damm is a renowned interpreter.
The first disc has him performing Telemann, Förster, Joseph Haydn and Beer, and shows his versatility as a performer, playing as he does the horn, piccolo horn, posthorn and hunting horn. This is a beautifully played disc, an ideal opening to the set as a whole. From here he moves on to a disc of Vivaldi, Fick, Reicha and Sperger, showing again that he is a master of the idiom. Two discs in and there are already three composers new to me, whose music is well worth investigating. The third disc represents an area where Damm really made his name, the romantic repertoire. The disc includes Weber, said to be the father of romanticism, Lortzing, Saint-Saëns and Schumann. The Lortzing comes as a surprise. I know his operatic works, but none of his instrumental works. Here we have a Konzertstück, a real joy. It probably also presents the horn in its lowest register, something Damm plays with ease. In the Schumann he is joined, I think, by three other players from the Staatskapelle Dresden, in a wonderful recording of the Konzertstück for four horns. The final disc is one I have cherished for a long time, Horn Concertos from the Dresden Court (001 1772BC). It presents wonderful music from the golden age of music-making in Dresden, by Quantz, Zelenka, Heinichen, Telemann and Fasch.
Disc five presents a disc of music by Joseph and Michael Haydn and by Mozart. It is performed by Felix Klieser. Whilst he gives a fair performance of the Horn Concerto No. 1, I find Peter Damm’s performance on the first disc a little more insightful. The item I found most interesting on this disc was the Mozart, here a reconstruction of the Horn Concerto in E flat Major K370b/371. It is not stated who reconstructed it, but it appears on the next disc where it is said to have been reconstructed and orchestrated by Herman Jeurissen. This is interesting, because one normally only gets the opening Allegro, yet here we have the second movement Rondo as well. It sounds to be the same Rondo as that reconstructed by John Humphries on Michael Thompson’s fine recording (8.553592), but Thompson treats them as separate pieces. Here they are presented as two movements of a single concerto.
As stated above, the following disc presents the music of Mozart, originally released on the Olympia label. Herman Jeurissen performs the usual four concertos and the three fragments, but not the famous D Major Rondo completed by Süssmayr. What Jeurissen offers instead is intriguing. We have the opening movement from the Concerto No. 1 in D major, here with the addition of Mozart’s comments theatrically voiced by Giorgio Mereu, but it is not for everyday listening.
Disc seven is Brilliant’s own recordings of the music of Telemann. Here we are treated to two concertos and three overtures for various combinations, from one to four horns. The inclusion of this music is timely—this year marks the 250 anniversary of the composer’s death—but this music is here in its own right. Telemann was an important figure in the development of horn music. The music presented here is bright and colourful, in recordings to match; they are bright if a little reverberant at times, but good on the whole.
This is followed by a disc of concertos for two horns originally released by Naxos as Czech Horn Concertos. The first two names, Joseph Fiala and František Xaver Pokorny, are new to me, or at least their music is. However, they prove to be ideal companions for the two concertos by Francesco Antonio Rosetti—one in F C61, the other in E flat C57—who is perhaps better known for his concertos for a single horn that follow on the next disc. The performance by Zdeněk Tylšar and Bedřich Tylšar with the Capella Istropolitana and František Vajnar is excellent; they give a well-measured and detailed performance.
As already stated, the following well-filled disc offers four concertos by Rosetti, the E flat C49, D minor C38, E Major C51 and the F Major C53. If anything, Zdeněk Divoký and the Czech Chamber Orchestra under Ondřej Kukal are on better form that the performers on the previous disc. This disc was originally released on Hänssler Classics, and the added production values show through. I have enjoyed Rosetti’s music ever since I stumbled across an old Supraphon Gem LP in the late 1970s. This recording only serves to heighten my enjoyment.
The tenth and final disc, licensed from Naxos, was originally released on Capriccio. It presents Andrew Joy performing the concertos by Richard Strauss, Othmar Schoeck and Hans Georg Pflüger (C 10443). I have, I think, Peter Damm’s earliest recording with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Rudolf Kempe (CZS 5736142), a recording I cherish. Damm’s musicianship is impeccable. Even if the mid-1970s recording quality does not stand up against more modern recording techniques, it is still my favourite recording of these two masterpieces. Still, Andrew Joy and the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester with Wolf-Dieter Hauschild are very very good and give a committed performance, up there with the best. There is a first-rate performance of the Othmar Schoeck concerto, a work which if not neglected, is certainly overlooked. The Concerto for Horn and Orchestra by Hans Georg Pflüger brings this box set bang up to date. Dating from 1983, this is the only work that some listeners might have difficulty with. From its very opening, it moves the horn forward in time, placing it firmly at the end of the 20th century. It is a relatively short work, just two movements lasting a total of just over fourteen minutes, but it is a powerful and sometimes aggressive work that employs every ounce of the colour available from the horn. This is an excellent disc, one to savour. If you are like me, you would start here your survey of this box set.
This is an excellent box set, one which sets out to highlight the horn as a solo instrument, and achieves it with flying colours. It is well conceived and executed, although I would have liked to see more 20th century music presented. The recordings are at least good, as is the recorded sound, and many are first-rate. The booklet notes, whilst not in-depth, manage to discuss every work presented here, making this a most valuable release.
Sonata da caccia Peter Damm (horn), Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hartmut Haenchen Johann BEER (1655-1700) Concerto à 4 for posthorn, corno da caccia, 2 violins & continuo in B flat major Peter Damm (horn), Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hartmut Haenchen Johann Friedrich FASCH ((1688-1758) Concerto FWV L:D18 in D major for 2 horns, 2 oboes, strings & b.c. Peter Damm (horn), Dieter Pansa (horn), Cappella Sagittariana, Eduard Melkus Joseph FIALA (1748-1816) Concerto for 2 Horns in E flat major Zdeněk Tylšar & Bedřich Tylšar (horns), Capella Istropolitana, František Vajnar Peter Johann FICK (d. 1743) Horn Concerto in E flat major Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Christoph FÖRSTER (1693-1745) Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major Peter Damm (horn), Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hartmut Haenchen Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, Hob.VIId:3 Peter Damm (horn), Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hartmut Haenchen Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, Hob.VIId:3 Horn Concerto No. 2 in D major, Hob.VIId:4 Felix Klieser (horn), Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian Michael HAYDN (1737-1806) Horn Concerto (Concertino) in D major, MH 134, P. 134 Felix Klieser (horn), Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian Johann David HEINICHEN (1683-1729) Concerto in F major Peter Damm (horn), Dieter Pansa (horn), Cappella Sagittariana, Eduard Melkus Albert LORTZING (1801-1851) Konzertstuck in E major Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791) Rondo for Horn & Orchestra in E flat major, K371 Felix Klieser (horn), Württembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn, Ruben Gazarian Horn Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, K417 Horn Concerto No. 3 in E flat major, K447 Fragment in E, K494a completed Herman Jeurissen Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, K412 (K386b) Fragment in E flat major, K370b reconstructed & orchestrated by Herman Jeurissen Horn Concerto No. 4 in E flat major, K495 Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, K412 (K386b) I Allegro with Mozart’s original text Herman Jeurissen (horn), Giorgio Mereu (narrator), Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Roy Goodman Hand Georg PFLÜGER (1944-1999) Concerto for Horn and Orchestra Andrew Joy (horn), Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Wolf-Dieter Hauschild František Xaver POKORNY (1729-1794) Concerto for 2 Horns and Orchestra in F Major Zdeněk Tylšar & Bedřich Tylšar (horns), Capella Istropolitana, František Vajnar Johann Joachim QUANTZ (1697-1773) Horn Concerto in E flat major Peter Damm (horn), Cappella Sagittariana, Eduard Melkus Joseph REICHA (1752-1792) Concerto for two violins (or violin & cello) in D major, Op. 3 (arr. two horns) Peter Damm (horn), István Vince (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Francesco Antonio ROSETTI (c.1750-1792) Concerto for 2 Horns & Orchestra in F major Murray C61/Knaul III:49 Concerto for 2 Horns & Orchestra in E flat major C56Q & C57 Zdeněk Tylšar & Bedřich Tylšar (horns), Capella Istropolitana, František Vajnar Horn Concerto in E flat major, Murray C49 Horn Concerto in D minor, Murray C38 Horn Concerto in E major, Murray C51 Horn Concerto in F Major, Murray C53 Zdeněk Divoký (horn), Czech Chamber Orchestra, Ondřej Kukal Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) Morceau de concert in F minor, Op. 94 Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Othmae SCHOECK (1886-1957) Horn Concerto in E flat major Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856) Konzertstück for four horns, Op. 86 Peter Damm (horn), Klaus Pietzonka (horn), Dieter Pansa (horn), Johannes Friemel (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Johannes SPERGER (1750-1812) Horn Concerto in E flat major Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Richard STRAUSS (1864-1957) Horn Concerto No. 1 in E flat major, Op. 11 Horn Concerto No. 2 in E flat major, AV132 Andrew Joy (horn), Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester, Werner Andreas Albert Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767) Concerto TWV 51:D8 in D major for horn, strings & b.c. Peter Damm (horn), Kammerorchester Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Hartmut Haenchen Concerto TWV 52:D2 in D major for 2 horns, strings & b.c. Peter Damm (horn), Dieter Pansa (horn), Cappella Sagittariana, Eduard Melkus Concerto TWV 51:D8 in D major for horn, strings & b.c. Ensemble Cordia, Stefano Vegetti Concerto TWV 52:Es1 for 2 Horns, 2 Oboe ripieni, Strings & B.c. Teunis van der Zwart & Erwin Wieringa (horns), Rémy Baudet & Sayuri Yamagata (violins), Musica Amphion, Pieter-Jan Belder Overture (Suite) TWV 55:F11 in F major for 4 horns, 2 oboes, 2 violins & b.c. 'Alster' Overture (Suite) TWV 55:F4 in F major Overture in E flat major, TWV 55:Es1 Ivo Hadermann, Johan van Neste, Rik Vercruysse & Bart Cypers (horns), Elisabeth Schollaert & Jan Maebe (oboes), Koen Coppé (bassoon), Collegium Instrumentale Brugense, Patrick Peire Anton VIVALDI (1678-1741) Concerto for 2 horns, strings & continuo RV539 Peter Damm (horn), István Vince (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826) Horn Concertino in E minor, Op. 45 Peter Damm (horn), Staatskapelle Dresden, Siegfried Kurz Jan Dismas ZELENKA (1679-1729) Capriccio No. 3 in F major, ZWV 184 Peter Damm (horn), Dieter Pansa (horn), Cappella Sagittariana, Eduard Melkus