Classical Works for Horn & Strings
In the insert-notes, horn-player Hermann Baumann describes the pieces on this disc as ''the essential chamber works for horn and strings of the Classical and Romantic periods''. The core work of the recording is Mozart's Horn Quintet, K407 and, according to Baumann, the horn part is the most difficult that Mozart wrote for the instrument. Baumann's virtuosity and refinement, sympathetically supported by the Gewandhaus Quartet, are immediately arresting. The playing here, which is quite simply superb bears comparison very well with Brain's historic 1944 Decca mid-price recording with the Griller Quartet.
The disc couples together several works which are rarely, if ever, heard. Beethoven's Sextet has been excellently recorded by the Gaudier Ensemble (Hyperion), but Baumann and the Gewandhaus, enlarged by Dshambasov on second horn, play with such panache (and the blend between horns and strings is so finely judged) that it is difficult to recommend another version.
The last three pieces provide further evidence of the indispensability of this issue. Michael Haydn's Romanze, an arrangement of the slow movement from Mozart's Third Horn Concerto, K447, is affectionately played with satisfying warmth of tone and unity of ensemble, and Joseph Haydn's E flat Divertimento provides an entertaining contrast.
Antoine Reicha (1770–1836) is best known as a theorist. However, his E major Quintet, Op. 106, recorded here for the first time, blends virtuosity and lyricism in music of rhythmic and contrapuntal ingenuity, and deserves to be better known. These excellent performances, superbly recorded, confirm this as an essential disc.'