www.classictoday.com, 01. January 1999
This release offers an intriguing collection of horn concertos from the Baroque era, a time when the horn was making its transition from a signaling or hunting instrument (corno di caccia) to an orchestral one. The disc opens with Telemann's sprightly and pleasing Concerto in D, in which the solo passages, some of them exquisite, are limited to not much more than six bars in length in order to preserve the horn player's lips. No such concern restrained Christoph Förster (1693-1745), who included some highly virtuostic solo writing in his E-flat concerto. The work also is notable for the first movement's main theme, which contains the same recurring idea as Stravinsky's Symphony in C. Next comes the anonymous Sonata da caccia in C major, discovered in Kromeriz, an important musical center in South Moravia. The rhetorical nature of the solo part is in keeping with the style of Corelli's concertos.
Haydn's concerto is the most extensive of this collection, and exploits the 18th-century horn's full potential. The solo part explores both extremes of the instrument's range, and even though the player is restricted to natural tones there are plenty of show-off opportunities in the trills and rapid runs. Johann Beer's (1655-1700) Concerto à 4 sounds positively staid by comparison. The soloist alternates between the hunting horn (which has the real solo part) and the coach horn, which simply plays high repeated octaves that become tiresome throughout the work's six movements. Peter Damm performs all the concertos with a beautifully confident, assured tone and stylish flair. Hartmut Haenchen and the CPE Bach Chamber Orchestra make beautiful music of the accompaniments. The recording balances the horn nicely with the orchestra in a warm acoustic. Overall, an enjoyable horn o' plenty.