Albrecht Mayer

Lost and Found

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The title Lost and Found is certainly appropriate for this quartet of Classical-period concertos, and their appearance on the venerable Deutsche Grammophon imprint, home to the likes of Herbert von Karajan, shows how far into the musical mainstream the neglected repertories of the earlier periods have come. Here listeners get not only unfamiliar works but even composers who were well-known in Mozart's time, but who have hardly been heard since the Napoleonic wars. Mayer serves notice of his technical skills in the first piece, the Oboe Concerto in C major of Franz Anton Hoffmeister; there's some serious passagework in the opening movement, and his touch in the slow movement is as delicate as anyone's out there. But the variety of the four works is the main attraction; if none of them has the concision of Mozart's sole oboe concerto, all show the directions taken by composers who were not trying to imitate Mozart or Haydn. Most interesting is the Concerto for English horn and orchestra in C major of Bohemian Joseph Fiala, who numbered Mozart among his friends. Some of the English horn solos here are underlaid by various small orchestral groups, giving an effect something like that of the French symphonie concertante. The colors of the Oboe Concerto in G minor of Ludwig August Lebrun, from Mannheim, are also varied, and the leisurely, discursive structure of Lebrun's opening movement seems to look forward to Hummel and the other proto-Romantics, even though the movement is a normal seven-and-a-half minutes long. The Oboe Concerto in F major at the end is not by Leopold Kozeluch (or Kozeluch), the better-known of a pair of Bohemian composer brothers, but by Jan Antonín Kozeluch (just to keep it confusing, Leopold was sometimes known as Jan Antonín); it's a high-spirited and entirely enjoyable piece. Mayer, conducting the Kammerakademie Potsdam, puts the focus squarely on his own playing, and the result is a satisfying release for those interested in the Classical period.

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