Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Herbert von Karajan, Dennis Brain Wind Ensemble|
Mozart: Horn Concertos Nos. 1-4
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The ultimate Mozart Horn concerto recording
Robert J. Cruce | Muskogee, OK United States | 09/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I, too, wondered through the years what I was missing by clinging so stubbornly to this recording, originally purchased on LP over 30 years ago. The first CD reissue of these performances was horrible, so why not try something up to date? I rue the day I bought an all digital recording on Philips by one of the maximum Horn superstars in the world (since sold in a garage sale at a fraction of its original cost). The musical culprit will have a bag placed over his head to protect the guilty. I got Mozart horn concerti turned into superstar ego vehicles complete with pretentious rubato, ridiculously self indulgent (and interminable) "cadenzas" and an aura of 20th century vulgarity. So its back to Dennis Brain and they got the transfer to digital right this time. You can't go wrong with this recording now sounding warm and inviting again. Accept no substitutes! This is the one you'll come back to."
A Truly "Know Brain" Purchase
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 05/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"EMI has done an expert job of transferring these classic 1953 mono performances with Dennis Brain in Mozart's 4 Horn Concertos. These readings certainly sound better here than on my weathered Angel LP. They are the prize of this set. The Philharmonia plays beautifully, even if Karajan's conducting falls a tad short of capturing all the wit in these scores. I have assigned just 4 stars here only because:
1. Brain's earlier recordings of #2 (with the Philharmonia under Walter Susskind) and #4 (with the Halle Orchestra, no conductor's name specified) were even more brilliant and stylish than what is heard here. Those performances are on a Pearl CD, which I have not heard (mine are on the original 10-inch Columbia LP).
2. My favorite Horn Concerto is #2: its delightful hunting horn calls in the last mvt. are some of the happiest music Mozart ever wrote. To my taste, the greatest-ever recording of #2 is Brain's 1953 account with Hans Rosbaud and the South-West German Symphony. In that reading, all the witty repartee between the soloist and orchestra is realized to perfection (Rosbaud would have been a far better choice for this complete EMI set than Karajan, who tends to smooth out the orchestral playing in a manner better-suited to Bruckner). That superlative #2 is available elsewhere on the internet in a 2-disc Rosbaud set for $10 on the private label Disco Archivia. Among the set's other contents: a brilliant live account of Mahler's 6th Symphony.
3. This 1954 recording of Mozart's Quintet for Piano & Winds features Brain on horn, his brother Leonard on oboe, clarinetist Stephen Walters, the great Cecil James on bassoon, and pianist Colin Horsley. Frankly, except for James, Brain's playing here is head and shoulders above that of his collaborators (Horsley's is utterly anonymous). One year earlier Brain recorded a SUPERB account with Walter Gieseking (one of that great Mozartean's finest performances), James again on bassoon, plus the masterly Philharmonia principals Sidney Sutcliffe (oboe) and Bernard Walton (clarinet). That is available on a Testament CD (see my review), which also contains a simply WONDERFUL reading of Beethoven's work for identical forces, played by Brain and the same partners. An indispensable CD!
While there are other fine integral sets of the 4 Horn Concertos (e.g., James Stagliano and the Zimbler Sinfonietta on a long-ago Boston LP), this EMI recording is simply the ONE to have. If you'll forgive the expression, owning this EMI CD is truly a "know Brain" purchase.
bibliomane01 | 07/15/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Mozart horn concertos are some of the sunniest and most purely enjoyable works in all of the western classical canon. Unlike many recordings touted as "great" or "original," Dennis Brain's recordings of these wonderful pieces with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic truly are among the great recordings of the twentieth century. Brain's tone, timbre and stamina are unmatched; Karajan and his cohorts are "in the zone" as well. Despite many attempts, I have never found another version that even comes close. Dennis Brain died tragically in an accident at the age of 36, but we can all be grateful that he was spared long enough to leave this splendid monument to the artistry of Mozart which has given so many generations of music lovers so much pleasure."