Review: Bohemian Horn Concertos


Continuing with reviews of a few CDs that came in recently we turn to Steven Gross and Bohemian Horn Concertos, a 2010 release from Summit Records. Three works are featured:

  • Jirí Havlík: Concerto for Horn and Strings
  • Jan Václav Stich-Punto: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra no. 5 in F Major
  • Antonio Rosetti: Concerto for Horn and Orchestra no. 2 in E-flat Major

Of them, the only one I was very familiar with was the Rosetti. I love this concerto and this is a very fine performance and recording. As I have noted in a prior article, Rosetti wrote a lot of music for the horn and the best of it is not performed nearly often enough. As to this performance, it is one very worth listening to! Steven Gross brings a great touch to this work with a musical and light style.

Punto was the leading horn soloist of his time (Beethoven wrote his Sonata for him) but was not a professional composer. Thus, what I expected just seeing the title on the CD was something a bit generic and classical. Which the work is generally but this spirited performance helps this work out a great deal and the last movement, a “Rondeau en chasse,” in particular is an attractive movement.

The first work on the recording is the one I really did not know what to expect when I first put in the CD, the Concerto for Horn and Strings by Jirí Havlík. For me just seeing in the liner notes that it is by a hornist/composer I don’t recognize and was written in 1976 don’t necessarily mean I will find it interesting. However this work really is one that deserves to be performed more often, with some of the colors and melodic style of other better known concertos for horn and strings (such as the Larsson Concertino) but in a more modern style. It is exactly the type of work that needs to be featured on a CD such as this, so that it may be easily heard and become more widely known. Thank you Steven Gross for beautifully recording this work! I hope his recording inspires others to perform this very attractive recent concerto.

The CD is available on iTunes now and was reviewed in The Horn Call last year as well. I was somewhat surprised to learn that the full content of a number of recent issues of The Horn Call are online in a third party website that can be accessed for free. Somehow the IHS contract with ProQuest must allow this content to be reproduced in full online in the ReadPeriodicals website. The link is here to the review of this CD by the late Calvin Smith, who also has a very positive take on this recording. And much more from recent issues of The Horn Call may be found there as well.

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