The Early Horn

Ursula Paludan Monberg, Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
hyperion CDA68289
Music by Graun, Haydn, L & W A Mozart, Telemann & anon

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After dropping apparently fully-formed into its role as an orchestral instrument in Handel’s Water Music, the horn very soon became an indispensable part of the Baroque and Classical orchestra. This CD explores its parallel pivotal role in 18th-century chamber music and illustrates how quickly composers cottoned on to the horn’s musical potential, while at the same time the technical developments instigated by players extended the instrument’s range. The opening track is a beautiful sinfonia da camera for horn and strings by Leopold Mozart, while a concerto and a trio by Graun, two anonymous Concerti from a Swedish source, a concerto by Telemann, a divertimento by Haydn and the E-flat-major horn quintet by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart all chart the horn’s development from Baroque to Classical instrument. The music selected for this CD shares the feature of being delightfully entertaining, while the anonymous concerti for horn, oboe d’amore and continuo and for horn, two oboes and continuo are particularly charming. The concerto for recorder, horn and continuo by Telemann is also predictably accomplished and engaging. Playing a wonderfully coiled Baroque horn, Ursula Paludin Monberg produces a beautifully rounded tone and displays a consummate playing technique. She is ably supported by the players of Arcangelo directed from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen. There is a wonderful inevitability about the thoroughly classical strains of the familiar Mozart quintet (K407) with which the CD concludes – we feel we have been informatively conducted from the horn’s early years in serious music to one of the pinnacles of the repertoire.

D. James Ross

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