SCHUMANN: Konzertstuck, Op. 86 / HAYDN: Symphony No. 31, "Horn Signal" (American Horn Quartet/ Dariusz Wisniewski/ Sinfonia Varsovia) (Naxos: 8.557747)
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CONCERTOS FOR FOUR HORNS
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Konzertst??ck for four horns, Op. 86
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Concerto in F major
Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767)
Overture in F major
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 31 in D Major 'Horn Signal'
The present recording features original compositionswritten for horn quartet and orchestra by some of thegreatest composers who ever lived. All four worksshowcase the melodic capabilities of the horn in the upperclarino register and make references to the horn'shistorical r??le as a signaling instrument. Additionally,Schumann's work explores the possibilities of the newlydeveloped valve horn, which revolutionised theinstrument not long after its first appearance in the concerthall. The American Horn Quartet here presents these fourwell-known, virtuosic works on one disc.
Robert Schumann's Konzertst??ck, Op. 86, for fourhorns and orchestra, was written in 1849 and firstperformed in February 1850 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus.
It was written during a period of physical andpsychological well-being for the composer while he wasin a frenzy of creative activity. In addition to his Adagioand Allegro, Op. 70, for horn and piano and Five HuntingSongs, Op. 137, for horn quartet and male chorus,Schumann completed nearly forty works in 1849 alone.
His Konzertst??ck is one of the first large-scale works toexploit the capabilities of the valve horn, which wasbecoming more popular than the hand horn in Germanyat this time. A virtuosic showpiece for the horn soloists,for many years this work was considered unplayable. Thisrecording features the American Horn Quartet playingthe original 1849 edition, which differs from the wellknown1851 edition most notably in the inclusion ofseveral additional high concert 'A's.
The Concerto in F major of George Frideric Handelis one of the works written at the time of the War of theAustrian Succession from 1745 to 1748. Written around1746, the opening is remarkably similar to the famousoverture to the music for the Royal Fireworks, which wasperformed in 1749 to celebrate the signing of the PeaceAix-la-Chapelle, the treaty that officially ended the War.
The stately opening leads into a lively section graced bysparkling ornamentation in this version by the AmericanHorn Quartet.
Georg Philipp Telemann's Overture in F major waswritten while he was in Hamburg, where he served forthe greater part of his career as the music director ofHamburg's five main churches and as Kantor of theJohanneum Lateinschule. Many of Telemann's workshave descriptive titles and imitate natural sounds and dailylife, as in this Overture. In fact, Die konzertierendendenFrosche und Krahen (The Concert of the Frogs andCrows) may be the most outrageous example of hisimitative pieces with its extreme use of chromaticism.
The Overture was first performed on 4th June, 1725 tocelebrate a visit by the Duke of Brunswick-L??neburg toHamburg. The Alster or Alster Lake is a large artificiallake located in the heart of Hamburg. The Overture mayhave been originally performed outdoors, making the useof four horns well suited to the horn's historicalassociation as an outdoor signaling instrument. Folkinfluences are prominent in this work with dronesimitating a hurdy-gurdy or bagpipe while everyday lifecan be heard in the echoes across the Alster, themechanical Hamburg carillons, and the croaks and clucksof the frogs and crows.
Joseph Haydn's Symphony No. 31 in D major 'HornSignal' was composed in September 1765, shortly afterHaydn's appointment to the position of Vice-Kapellmeister to the Esterhazy family. The piece wasundoubtedly written specifically for the virtuoso hornsection that was at Esterhazy in 1765, which includedCarl Franz, Thaddaus Steinm??ller, Johann May, and FranzStamitz. Haydn wrote several works featuring the hornaround this time, probably for one of these players,including two horn concertos (the one known today asNo.1 was written in 1762, while the other was writtenaround 1761-65. No. 2 is considered spurious) as well asthe Divertimento a tre for horn, violin, and violoncello(1767) and the Cassation for four horns and strings (c.