Czech Horn Concertos (Bedrich Tylsar/ Capella Istropolitana/ Frantisek Vajnar/ Karol Kopernicky/ Zdenek Tylsar) (Naxos: 8.550459)
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Czech Horn Concertos
Josef Fiala (1748 - 1816)
Concerto in E Flat Major for Two Horns
Frantiek Xaver Pokorny (1729 - 1794)
Concerto in F Major for Two Horns
Francesco Antonio Rosetti (c.1750 - 1792)
Concerto in A Flat Major for Two Horns
Concerto in E Flat Major for Two Horns
Bohemia boasts a long musical history, with achievement at alllevels of the art. Of particular distinction were the Bohemian horn-players of theeighteenth century, the first to experiment with the middle and lower register of theinstrument, creating notes outside the harmonic series by the insertion of the hand intothe bell of the instrument. This technique gave the instrument new possibilities, furtherincreased by other technical developments in Dresden and elsewhere, particularly throughthe Bohemian player and teacher Carl Haudek and his Prague-born colleague Anton JosephHampel, teachers of the Czech Giovanni Punto, born Jan Vaclav Stich and so much admired byMozart.
Mozart was favourably impressed too by the achievement ofJoseph Fiala, oboist, cellist, player of the viola da gamba and composer. Born in WesternBohemia at Lochovice in 1748, he was employed first by Countess Netolicka and then asoboist by Prince Kraft Ernst Oettingen-Wallerstein before, in 1777, entering the serviceof the Elector Maximilian Joseph in Munich. Mozart heard the wind band trained by Fialaduring the course of a visit to Munich in 1777 and thought well enough of him as acomposer and as a musician to help him to secure a position in Salzburg after the death ofthe Elector in 1778. He remained in Salzburg unti11785, when he moved to Vienna and mayhave found work for the moment as trainer of a wind band for Prince Esterhazy. In 1786 heentered the service of the Russian Empress Catherine the Great in St. Petersburg. Fouryears later he was again in Germany, performing on the viola da gamba for thecello-playing monarch King Friedrich Wilheim II of Prussia, and in 1792 he took his finalemployment as Kapellmeister to Prince F??rstenberg at Donaueschingen, where much of hismusic has been preserved. The three-movement E flat Concerto for Two Horns is very much inthe idiom of his time, of which it is an elegant and attractive example.
The name Pokorny is not uncommon in Bohemia and not uncommonamong musicians, perhaps through its connotations with modest humility. FrantiekXaver Pokorny was born at Mies in 1729. He studied first at Regensburg, before becoming apupil of Johann Stamitz, Franz Xaver Richter and Ignaz Holzbauer, his Bohernianfellow-countrymen, in Mannheim, through the patronage of Count Philipp KarlOettingen-Wallerstein. From 1766 he was in the service of the Princes von Thurn und Taxisin Regensburg. It is thought that the horn virtuoso Beate Pokorny may have been hissister. His compositions include some 100 symphonies, not all of which can beauthenticated, and three concertos for two horns, of which the present F major Concerto isan attractive example.
Ambiguity of nomenclature is found in the case of the BohemianFrantiek Antonin Rosler or Rosety, better known by the assumed Italian form of hisname, Francesco Antonio Rosetti. He was born at Leitmeritz (the modern Litom~1ice) about1750, as may be assumed from the record of his death in 1792 at Ludwigslust, when he isdescribed as 42 years old. Rosetti was educated by the Jesuits and trained in theology,later turning rather to music, before taking his final vows. He found early employment asa double bass player in the service of Prince Kraft Ernst of Oettingen-Wallerstein,succeeding Josef Reicha as Kapellmeister in 1785. At Wallerstein he gained experienceparticularly in the handling of wind instruments with a wind band that was regarded as thebest of its period. His fame grew with a concert tour to Paris and in 1789 he becameKapellmeister to the Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin at Ludwigslust. In 1791 he w rote aRequiem for Prague to mark the death of Mozart and visited the court at Potsdam before hisdeath in 1792.
Rosetti took Haydn, Mozart and Johann Stamitz as his models,and himself made a considerable contribution to writing for the French horn, an instrumenthe well understood. His music retains elements of the Baroque in a generally classicalidiom. Among his many concertos for wind instruments are fifteen for solo French horn andsix for two horns. The slow movement of his A flatConcerto is particularly effective in its lyrical qualities, capped by anelegant final French rondeau. The orchestral music of Rosetti was well known to Schubert,who grew familiar with it as a pupil in the orchestra at the Staatskonvikt in Vienna inthe early years of the nineteenth century.
Bedrich and Zdenek Tylsar
The brothers Bedrich and Zdenek Tylsar are the leadingexponents of a long Czech tradition of French horn-playing. Both graduated at the JanacekAcademy of Musical Arts and after winning several prizes in prestigious competitions inEurope became members of the acclaimed Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
Their repertoire comprises a wide range of works from Haydn andMozart to contemporary music. They also have a special interest in Czech music bycomposers such as Rosetti and Reicha.
Frantiek Vajnar was born in 1930 and studied violin andconducting at the Prague Conservatory. Having conducted at the opera theatres of Ostravaand Usti he was appointed in 1974 conductor of the National Theatre in Prague. In 1979 hewas appointed principal conductor of the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra.