This CD represents a labor of love on the part of veteran German trumpeter Ludwig Güttler, who assembled a collection of newly constructed instruments in order to explore the almost unknown repertory of music for the Baroque corno da caccia, or hunting horn. To let the arcane-sounding subject matter put you off would be a serious mistake, for Güttler unearths one absolute masterpiece and one highly competent handling of the same challenges, one extremely intriguing experiment, and two works that are never less than mellow and sweet. The masterpiece is the Capriccio in F major for two corni da caccia, two oboes, bassoon, strings, and basso continuo of Jan Dismas Zelenka, a four-movement concerto-like work ending with a minuet. The attraction lies in Zelenka's handling of this unwieldy collection of instruments, with a sort of progressively layered effect unlike anything else in the Baroque repertory. Johann Friedrich Fasch's Concerto in D major for the same combination is only slightly less smooth. The experiment is Johann Beer's Concerto à 4 in B flat major for posthorn, corno da caccia, two violins, and continuo, where the posthorn (which plays only in octaves) and corno da caccia are both played by the same soloist, in this case Güttler. To see this dialogue-with-oneself on-stage must be a special delight. The album also includes concertos for a single corno da caccia by Johann Georg Röllig and Jan Krtitl Jiri Neruda, with very warm-toned slow movement and the bonus of discovering almost completely unknown composers. This album is a compilation of recordings made between 1989 and 2002 by Güttler and his Virtuosi Saxoniae ensemble, and the only reason not to buy it might be to explore the individual releases instead.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Concerto in D major for two corni da caccia, two oboes, bassoon, strings and b.c.|
|Concerto à 4 in B flat major for posthorn, corno da caccia, two violins and b.c.|
|Capriccio in F major for two corni da caccia, two oboes, bassoon, strings and b.c., ZWV 184|
|Concerto in D major for corno da caccia, strings and b.c.|
|Concerto in E flat major for corno da caccia, strings and b.c.|