Hyperion Records

Horn Quintet in E flat major, K407
? late 1782; K386c

'Mozart: Horn Concertos' (CDA68097)
Mozart: Horn Concertos
CDA68097  5 January 2015 Release  
'Mozart: Oboe Quartet, Horn Quintet & other works' (CDH55390)
Mozart: Oboe Quartet, Horn Quintet & other works
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55390  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Allegro
Track 12 on CDA68097 [6'40] 5 January 2015 Release
Track 4 on CDH55390 [8'57] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 2: Andante
Track 13 on CDA68097 [5'34] 5 January 2015 Release
Track 5 on CDH55390 [5'47] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 3: Rondo: Allegro
Track 14 on CDA68097 [4'36] 5 January 2015 Release
Track 6 on CDH55390 [3'55] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Horn Quintet in E flat major, K407
The first work Mozart wrote for Joseph Leutgeb is the Quintet for horn and strings, K407 (K386c), which dates from the autumn of 1782, the first months of the composer’s marriage to Constanze Weber and around the same time he wrote the Singspiel Die Entführung aus dem Serail. Instead of the usual two violins, the accompanying string quartet has two violas, lending the work an unusual, indeed unique tonal effect, which better complements both the timbre and tessitura of the horn. This gives the horn a sympathetic accompaniment, whilst at the same time giving prominence to the bright sound of the single violin. It is worth remembering that Mozart himself preferred playing the viola, and his string quintets also call for two violas.

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

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