“Die 4 Hornkonzerte (4 Horn Concertos)” is an album containing the four Horn Concertos for horn solo and orchestra composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a 18th-century musician from Salzburg and composer of the Viennese classical school.
The album is the first recording of Mozart’s all his four Horn Concertos by using the original instrument, a natural horn without valves.
The album was recorded by German horn player Hermann Baumann (natural horn), Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt (conductor), and Concentus Musicus Wien, an Austrian early music ensemble based in Vienna in 1973, and was released as a LP by Telefunken (the present Teldec) in 1974.
The four Horn Concertos are generally considered to be composed in the 1780s and the early 1790s in the order of Nos. 2, 4, 3 and 1, for Mozart’s senior friend and skilled horn player Joseph Leutgeb (Leitgeb).
The second movement (rondo) of the No. 1 was unfinished because Mozart died. It was added and finished by Mozart’s student Franz Xaver Süssmayr after Mozart’s death.
Each one features Mozart’s characteristic lightness and melodic beauty with melancholy. Horn Concerto No. 3 in E-flat major, K. 447 (c. 1787–89) is regarded as the greatest work among them because it is excellent in melodic beauty and depth of music. It is characterized by using clarinets in place of oboes.
Each one includes a rondo movement at six-eight time rhythm called “the hunting rondo”.
Many classical musicians have recorded Mozart’s four Horn Concertos. Among the recordings on modern instruments, the 1954 recording by Dennis Brain (horn), Herbert von Karajan (conductor) and the Philharmonia Orchestra is famous. Among the recordings on period instruments, this album is highly regarded as a historic recording.
The highlight is Baumann’s virtuosity of natural horn with hand-stopping technique.