Jacek Muzyk, horn; Agnieszka Duezmal, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio. Naxos 8.570419.
The first thing I noticed when I picked up this disc was that it included only the four Mozart Horn Concertos and nothing else. This amounts to only a little over fifty minutes of music, while most competing labels include another concerto or two. I also thought, well, if you could buy the Naxos disc for around five bucks, it would still be worth the money, and then I remembered that "budget-priced" Naxos discs are now retailing at about nine or ten dollars, nearly the cost of most remastered mid-price material. So, the album is not the bargain it might have been a few years ago.
The performances are pleasant enough, if not extraordinary in any way. I mean, how can you knock a musician whose name is Muzyk, anyway? He plays a good horn, although he's also rather foursquare in his interpretations. Occasionally, I felt that the slow sections might have been a little too languid, but they are brief interludes, and things pick up in the outer movements.
The Naxos sound for Muzyk and the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio is fairly close, yet with plenty of resonant bloom. Although the engineers capture the horn in the center position, it is a tad more recessed than usual, and the orchestral spread seems to favor the left side of the sound stage a tad too much.
Although this disc makes a safe bet, a relatively new digital recording, do note that one might obtain greater value with several of the mid-priced reissues of recordings that have stood the test of time, things like Dennis Brain with Herbert von Karajan (EMI, mono), Alan Civil with Rudolf Kempe (EMI), Lowell Greer with Nicholas McGegan (Harmonia Mundi), or Barry Tuckwell with Neville Marriner (EMI). It's an open field.
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer
Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.
Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer
For over 20 years I was the editor of The $ensible Sound magazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me--point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.
For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, as of right now it comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio High Current preamplifier, AVA FET Valve 550hc or Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst
I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.
It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.
When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.
So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio
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