Friday, August 28, 2015

Mozart & His Horny Friends

Our Summer 2015 Friday Blog and Podcasts reach into past musings. Today's post is a repeat of a ITYWLTMT Blog Post from September 28, 2012.

Mobile followers can listen to the montage on our Pod-O-Matic Channel, and desktop users can simply use the embedded player found on this page.

No. 75 of the ongoing ITYWLTMT series of audio montages can be found in our archives at https://archive.org/details/MozartAndHisHornyFriends


Some of the post's content and illustrations were changed to fit this month's thematic arc.


pcast073- Playlist

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For this final installment of our Summer-long look at the music of Mozart, I am recycling a vintage podcast from 2912 and turn to one of my favourite instruments – the French Horn. I don’t know about you, but the French Horn has a sound I simply love to hear. When it’s played well, the horn can sound just as melodious as any other instrument of the orchestra.

From the Mozart catalogue, I chose one of Mozart’s four horn concertos (the number 1), played so brilliantly in this vintage recording by England’s Dennis Brain. In a past Once Upon the Internet, I provided a pair of horn concertos, and below is the 2nd - and remaining -  concerto.


The next Mozart work on the montage is the Posthorn serenade.

The post horn (also posthorn, post-horn, or coach horn) is a valveless cylindrical brass or copper instrument with cupped mouthpiece, used to signal the arrival or departure of a post rider or mail coach. It was used especially by postilions (early mailmen) of the 18th and 19th centuries.

The instrument commonly had a circular or coiled shape with three turns of the tubing, though sometimes it was straight. It is therefore an example of a natural horn. The cornet was developed from the post horn by adding valves.

The first trio of the second minuet of the serenade (the sixth movement) features a solo flautino (or piccolo) played over strings. The second trio of the second minuet features a solo for the post horn. It is that solo which gives the serenade its nickname.

The recording I chose is a vintage performance by the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, and the solo horn is provided by a real post horn (either that, or our horn player had a really bad day at the office…),

The Mozart works are bookended by a pair of fine horn works – the first is Carl Czerny’s Andante and polacca for horn and piano. Czerny's music was profoundly influenced by his teachers, Clementi, Hummel, Salieri and Beethoven. This small chamber work sounds very Beethoven-like, and the performance by Marsolais and Jalbert ois right on the mark.

As for Schumann’s Kozertstuck for four horns, it is a hair-raising delight! This is one of the composer's most neglected works in my opinion - this is unfortunate because it is an inventive, compelling work that rewards repeated hearings. It should not be compared to concertante works of the German repertoire, but rather  it should be discussed in terms of its lyric quality and harmonic ingenuity.

I think you will love this music too.