Leopold Mozart Complete Horn ConcertosLeopold Mozart
Complete Horn Concertos

Herman Jeurissen, horn
Michael Höltzel, horn

Concerto Rotterdam
Heinz Friesen, conductor

MDG, 1984

The first thing I have to notice about Leopold Mozart after I listened to this recording of his Complete Horn Concertos is that, as a composer, he resembles very little the dry and materialistic man I was accustomed to meet in the letters to his son (which, unfortunately for him, are more famous than any of his compositions). The four compositions collected are delicious, carefree pieces, written in the gallant form used for entertainment at court, and reveal a man not enlightened by the spark of genius, but who was able to write some nice, light music, where there is not any hint of his severe nature.

The Concerto in E flat major for two horns and strings, the Sinfonia Pastorale, the Sinfonia da camera and the Sinfonia da caccia are not dated except the first, written in 1752, but are all composed before Wolfgang’s birth. This means that Leopold had not refined his style yet (this will happen after his trips around Europe with his infant prodigy) and anyway they lack the liveliness or brilliance which distinguishes Wolfgang’s Horn Concert, even if sometimes there is the occasion to listen to some fine expression, as in the Sinfonia Pastorale, which is a little ironic in its fast movements.

Complete Horn Concertos is very well recorded and feature two very good solo instruments (played by Herman Jeurissen and Michael Höltzel) accompanied by the great Concerto Rotterdam. They all try to get the best out of Leopold Mozart’s compositions and succeed thanks to a lovely interpretation and to the great attention they give to these works. What really impresses you is not the music, which – as I said – is not particularly original, but the way in which the performers execute it: with the same interest, care and admiration destined to the works of some great composer, but that are extremely difficult to find for the less important ones. This is really what makes you appreciate this recording.