Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Andante
Movement 3: Rondo: Allegro
The opening sonata-form Allegro is marked by a main theme full of contrasts: loud and soft, lyrical and articulated. In addition to contrasts of timbre, there are rapid scales and octave-hopping repeated notes within what is essentially a lyrical work. Much of the texture features antiphonal exchanges between the horn and violin against the backdrop of the lower strings, as we find in this movement, but there are other combinations too: horn with lower strings, cello and horn, and strings alone. The overall effect is to give the impression of a much larger ensemble.
The longest of the three movements is the nocturne-like Andante, which offers a graceful partnership between the horn and strings, again emphasizing the lyric side of the instrument. The horn and violin trade phrases easily in this genial movement, so much that Alfred Einstein described it as a love duet.
The concluding Rondo’s imposing technical demands are an excellent testimony to Leutgeb’s abilities as well as to the capabilities of the natural horn in the eighteenth century. The main theme, heard immediately in the strings, bears some relation to the theme of the Andante. There are two contrasting episodes: the first displays the most virtuosic horn-writing in the piece, whilst the second, set in the contrasting minor key, makes great use of the tone-colours that partially, half-, and fully ‘stopped’ notes would introduce.
from notes by Richard Payne © 2015