A new Hyperion release has Pip Eastop playing Mozart's Horn Concertos on a natural instrument—a modern version of a period hunting horn.
Behind him, the stylish Hanover Band is conducted by Anthony Halstead, himself a noted horn player. And, as well as the four concertos, we have a Quintet K407 which, although hardly top-drawer Mozart, is elegantly delivered by Eastop and the Eroica Quartet.
There are no quality complaints on the concerto front, with their rollicking Finales, offering all the fun of the chase without the blemish of animal cruelty. Then there are those unabashedly tuneful slow movements—Joseph Leutgeb, for whom they were written, was celebrated for his warm, rich tone.
Eastop combines the incisive and the lyrical in perfect proportion; his archaic instrument sometimes gives the impression of Rousseau's wild child caught in an eighteenth century drawing room.
Here and there, a note seems to come from somewhere just beyond the microphone, due to the technical limitations of the instrument, and free-ranging cadenzas can sound startlingly of our times.