Wilhelm Bruns / Thomas Fey / Heidelberger Sinfoniker

Haydn: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 14 - Symphony No. 31 "Mit dem Hornsignal"; Horn Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

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This album comes in the midst of a sequence of fine Haydn symphony releases by the historical-instrument Heidelberger Sinfoniker and its conductor, Thomas Fey, and those following the series shouldn't overlook it or be dissuaded by the squawking entities that have passed for natural horn players in the past. Hornist Wilhelm Bruns makes his valveless instrument sing in the slow movements and takes a brisk, aggressive tone in the Allegros, tying the Horn Concerto No. 1 in D major, Hob. 7d/3, back to its outdoor-divertimento origins. He scales his approach back in the delightful Symphony No. 31 in C major, Hob. 1/31 ("Hornsignal"), a concertante work that Haydn wrote in order to display the talents of Esterháza's remarkable stable of solo instrumentalists. Bruns does not overshadow the violin or the double bass in the endlessly charming variation finale, but when given the chance to show off himself, as in the cadenzas of the concertos, he revels in the instrument's registral and timbral possibilities. The only discordant note is the presence of the Horn Concerto No. 2 in D major, Hob 7d/4, which despite having been a good enough imitation of Haydn's style to fool his indefatigable cataloguer Hoboken, does not fit with Haydn's style as of its 1781 date and probably should be classed as party or wholly spurious. Nevertheless, hear Bruns' graceful trills and low octaves in the finale cadenza! A strong choice for Haydn lovers or anyone interested in the emergence of the horn as a concert instrument.

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