Andrew Joy / Johannes Goritzki / Joshua Rifkin

Hornkonzerte: Haydn, Rosetti, Cherubini, Danzi, Punto

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This album, Horn Concertos, is curious and curiously titled. The concertos all come from a 1998 release on Capriccio featuring the Australian horn player Andrew Joy and Johannes Goritzki leading Kölner Rundfunkorchester in complete performances of the works by the five composers, but this album includes only one complete concerto, with one or two movements from the other four, plus a performance of the first three movements of Haydn's Symphony No. 31, "Hornsignal," with Cappella Coloniensis conducted by Joshua Rifkin, in which the two horns are indeed prominent, but the players are uncredited. All these incomplete performances make for an odd program, but taken individually, each of the tracks is delightful. Joy is a virtuoso player with impeccable technique and it's a pleasure to hear him rip through these formidably difficult works with ease and abandon and consummate musicianship. The evenness of his tone from top to bottom is a marvel and his lip trills are dazzling. He uses a modern valve horn rather than the natural horn for which they were written, so period practice purists may want to stay away, but general listeners are likely to be won over by Joy's infectious playing. The playing of both orchestras is terrific: lively, limber, and spirited. The sound is clean and clear, but the horn is so foregrounded that it sounds a little unnaturally close.

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