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Dip Your Ears, No. 121 (Blowing Rosetti's Horn )

available at AmazonRosetti, Horn Concertos,
R.Baborak / J.Moesus / Bavarian Chamber Philharmonic
Arte Nova 927640

When checking ArkivMusic to see how many other recordings of (Francesco) Antonio Rosetti’s horn concertos there are, I was very surprised to find scarcely anything. CPO has covered the clarinet-, oboe-, bassoon-, and two-horns concerto trail in a boxed set. But apart from a 12 year old EBS release with soloist Ifor James that offers two horn concerts, I see no currently available dedicated Rosetti disc of these works. [A few months after initially writing this, cpo delivered the horn concertos, after all.]

That’s a shame, as it turns out, because Bohemia-born Antonio Rosetti a.k.a. Anton Rös(s)ler (1750-92) wrote terrific music that is very much worth hearing. Michael Carter’s observation (reviewing violin concertos and symphonies for Fanfare Magazine) is apt: “If you like Mozart and Haydn, there’s no doubt you’ll quickly warm to [Rosetti].”

Perhaps that description seems so very apt because I am listening to this disc, as I write these lines, in the congenial surrounding of a Viennese coffee house on a Sunday morning where even the banal can appear in Mozartean sugarcoating. Apart from Rosetti’s music decidedly not being kitsch or derivative, though, this music would put smiles on any inclined faces from Boise to Bangalore.

Constant comparison—usually kind but patronizing—to Mozart doesn’t do justice to Rosetti because listening to good music isn’t a competition unless someone had space and time for no more than four horn concertos from the classical period. If you have room for at least four more, you might make them these. This is truly enjoyable music that can withstand focused listening but would also serve well as—dare I say it—background music… it’s as if he had had morning drive-time in mind.

Johannes Moesus who conducts the exceptionally well playing Bavarian Chamber Philharmonic on this disc recorded by Bavarian Radio in 2001 and re-issued on Arte Nova, is something of a specialist with three Rosetti discs on CPO and two on MDG already to his name. Radek Baborak, 1994 1st prize winner at the ARD Competition, has been first hornist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, solo hornist of the Munich Philharmonic, and is now the solo horn of the Berlin Philharmonic. His performance is, not surprisingly, superb.

Everything—music, performances, sound—about this Rosetti disc is compelling, giving cause for temperate enthusiasm… something that can’t be said about every Arte Nova release. The numbering is taken from Stephen E. Murray’s 1996 catalog of Rosetti’s works. C47 is apocryphal. There are ten more extant horn concertos of Rosetti out there: Bring them on.