Mozart – Clarinet and Horn Concertos / Maag

More of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

More music conducted by Peter Maag

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  • An outstanding copy of this wonderful classical release with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, clear, present and transparent, with a HUGE bottom end, you better believe that this is some Demo Disc sound
  • Both sides are open, high-rez, and spacious, with depth like you will not believe and some of the least shrill string reproduction we have ever heard for this music (which is the main problem we run into on the album)

This vintage London Stereo pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the Best Sides of The Clarinet and Horn Concertos Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear

  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1960
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren’t veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we’ve heard them all.

Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.

Smear is common to most vintage pressings and this is no exception. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.

What We’re Listening For on Mozart’s Concertos

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

The Speakers Corner Decca Reissue

Not sure if we would still agree with what we wrote back in the ’90s when their pressing came out, but here it is anyway.

One of the best of the Deccas. I raved about this one years ago when it came out. If I had to pick a record to demonstrate how wonderful Decca recordings are, musically and sonically, this would be an easy choice.

If you have any Heavy Vinyl reissue of this recording, we would love to send you this one so that you can hear what you’ve been missing all these years. And if the difference in sound isn’t worth the difference in price, feel free to return this one to us and we will happily pay the domestic shipping back.

A Must Own Mozart Record

These wonderful concertos — two of the greatest ever composed — should be part of any serious Classical Collection.

Others that belong in that category can be found here.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Clarinet Concerto In A Major

1st Mov.: Allegro
2nd Mov.: Adagio
3rd Mov.: Rondo – Allegro

Side Two

Horn Concerto No. 1 In D Major

1st Mov.: Allegro
2nd Mov.: Allegro
Horn Concerto No. 3 In E Flat Major

1st Mov.: Allegro
2nd Mov.: Romanze – Larghetto
3rd Mov.: Allegro

Clarinet Concerto in A Major

As there is no autograph for this concerto and as it was published posthumously, it is difficult to understand all of Mozart’s intentions. The only relic of this concerto written in Mozart’s hand is an excerpt of an earlier rendition of the concerto written for basset horn in G (K. 584b/621b). This excerpt is nearly identical to the corresponding section in the published version for A clarinet.

Mozart originally intended the piece to be written for basset horn, as Anton Stadler was also a virtuoso basset horn player, but eventually was convinced the piece would be more effective for clarinet. However, several notes throughout the piece go beyond the conventional range of the A clarinet; Mozart may have intended the piece to be played on the basset clarinet, a special clarinet championed by Stadler that had a range down to low (written) C, instead of stopping at (written) E as standard clarinets do.

Even in Mozart’s day, the basset clarinet was a rare, custom-made instrument, so when the piece was published posthumously, a new version was arranged with the low notes transposed to regular range. This has proven a problematic decision, as the autograph no longer exists, having been pawned by Stadler, and until the mid 20th century musicologists did not know that the only version of the concerto written by Mozart’s hand had not been heard since Stadler’s lifetime. Attempts were made to reconstruct the original version, and new basset clarinets have been built for the specific purpose of performing Mozart’s concerto and clarinet quintet.

-Wikipedia

Horn Concerto No. 1 In D Major

This is one of two horn concertos of Mozart to include bassoons (the other is K. 447), but in this one he “treats them indifferently in the first movement.” It is the only one of Mozart’s horn concertos to be in D major (the rest are in E-flat major) and the only one to have just two movements instead of the usual three (with the exception of the incompletely scored horn concerto, K. 370b+371).

Although numbered first, this was actually the last of the four to be completed. Compared to the other three horn concertos, it is shorter in duration (two movements rather than three) and is much simpler in regard to both range and technique, perhaps in a nod to the horn player (Mozart’s great friend) Leutgeb’s advanced age and (presumably) reduced capabilities at the time of composition. The second movement, K. 514, was shown by Alan Tyson to have been finished by Mozart’s student Franz Xaver Süssmayr after Mozart’s death.

-Wikipedia

Horn Concerto No. 3 In E Flat Major

The composition was written as a friendly gesture for the hornist Joseph Leutgeb (his name is mentioned few times in the score), and Mozart probably did not consider it as particularly important, since he failed to enter it to the autograph catalogue of his works. The autograph score remained well preserved; it is stored in the British Library in London.

-Wikipedia

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