MOZART:  Concerto No. 1 in D, K. 412.  Concerto No. 2 in E Flat, K. 417.  Concerto No. 3 in E Flat, K. 447.  Concerto No. 4 in E Flat, K. 495.  Concert Rondo in E flat, K. 371
Peter Landgren, horn; Atlantic String Quartet
SONORIS SCD  5164 (F) TT:  60:33

Mozart composed his horn concertos in Vienna for his friend Joseph Leutgeb (1721-1811), leaving them in manuscripts one of which (K. 412) he didn't complete; this was revised after the composer's death by Franz Süssmayr. This CD also contains the Rondo K. 371, written before the concertos; this performance is a new edition which contains a fragment not discovered until 1988. All four concertos were intended to have full orchestral accompaniment, four string parts plus winds. However, on occasion during Mozart's time, this music was performed with rather small accompanying groups with the composer's approval—depending on musicians available. In this unusual recording, wind parts that double strings have been omitted, important wind parts have been rewritten for strings (two violins, viola, cello).  Down to the bare essentials one might say, but Mozart's genius remains. Thus it is possible to perform this delightful music with only five players. This arrangement and edition is by Ken Bell and Peter Landgren, published by Timber Ridge Music.  

This admirable CD is very much a Baltimore-oriented production. Peter Landgren, in addition to his position as Associate Principal Horn of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, has a career as soloist, recitalist and chamber musician. He also wrote cadenzas heard in these performances. The Atlantic String Quartet, formed in 1995 by four members of the BSO, (violinists Gregory Mulligan and Rebecca Nichols, violist Christian Colberg and cellist Gita Ladd) obviously is a first-class group. Landgren plays with consistent tonal beauty and assured technique, with sensitive support by the string quartet. The recording was made in the acoustically warm Gordon Center for the Performing Arts just outside Baltimore, engineered by Leszek Wojzek, who masterminded many of the superb BSO broadcasts. Leading hornists over the years, including Alan Civil, Barry Tuckwell and Dennis Brain have recorded Mozart's concertos for the instrument; this is the only one in which accompaniment is provided not by an orchestra, but by a string quartet.  The result is enchanting to the ear indeed.

R.E.B. (February 1, 2003)