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Förster, Graun, Quantz: Horn Concertos - Franssen

Förster, Graun, Quantz: Horn Concertos - Franssen

Challenge Classics  CC 72904

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Förster: Horn Concerto in E flat major
Graun: Horn Concerto in E major, two Trio Sonata's in D major
Anon: Horn Concerto in E flat major
Quantz: Horn Concerto in E flat major

Fréderick Franssen (horn)
Members of Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra


"From among the enormous choice of horn repertoire available in the early stages of my study of the instrument, my interest was piqued by the very earliest horn music. The music from that era did and still does exert its magic on me due to the pure beauty of its clear and transparent sound world. One of my first finds on this quest of discovery through the Baroque period was a concerto by an unknown hand, which appears on this album and comes from a very special collection – the ‘Wenster’. The library at the University of Lund in Sweden contains one of the largest collections of horn music from the first half of the 18th century, under the name of ‘Wenster’. The manuscript contains 18 works, with virtually all of the composers having some sort of connection to the city of Dresden, and it may have been transcribed by a travelling horn player during a visit to that city. The six works on this recording are all taken from this collection." - Fréderick Franssen

Fréderick Franssen (1977) plays the French Horn in the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Besides the orchestra he performs as a soloist. A rare and precious disc of Baroque horn concertos. These concertos they all come from a Swedish collection named ‘Wenster’. The composers and the works have all a connection with the town of Dresden, an especially vibrant musical centre at the half of 18th century. Played on modern instruments by musicians who are well-informed on historical performance practice.

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - July 10, 2022

Isn’t it endearing to realize that in the Baroque era much of the music-making was so joyful? This recent Challenge Classics release is a clear example. Many will be familiar with Graun and Quantz, but it is highly unlikely that anyone will know any of the horn compositions included in this album. And who is privy to the works of Christoph Förster, I wonder? Not me, in any case. Reason enough to feel privileged to sample once again music I did not know existed.

The solo hornist, Fréderick Franssen, describes in his liner notes how he discovered a collection named 'Wenster', containing handwritten copies of horn music from the first half of the 18th century, in the library of Lund University, Sweden. All six compositions (four Concerti and two Trio Sonatas) recorded were taken from that collection, and we owe it to him, his colleague musicians, members of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and, of course, Challenge Classics that we now have these ‘rare’ but most enjoyable music ‘on record’.

In line with other producers, Challenge Classics has scaled down the release of SACD over the past couple of years. But if they do, they use the best available pressing facilities (Sony, Austria) and, with a few exceptions, the recording wizardry of Bert van der Wolf (Northstar Recording Services). Prospective buyers of these concerti (don’t hesitate) will therefore be sure to get with it a five-star sound bonus.

With the exception of ‘Anonymous’ attr. Graun, each of the concerti is modeled in a fast-slow-fast format with short movements. Gems as they are, my preference is for Graun’s Trio Sonatas. It is like a necklace of little pearls, further embellished by the supporting musicians fully up to the mark. The fact that modern instruments are used, does not distract.

As can be noted from the informative details regarding each of the composers, Franssen has done his homework to perfection, including some plausible guesswork as to which of the Graun sons was the likely author of the works contained in this release.

All in all, a release that should easily find its way among those who are interested in exploring the wealth of baroque ‘entertainment’ for the elite. You are bound to like it as much as I did.

Blangy-le-Château, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2022 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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Sonics (Multichannel):

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