In the hierarchy of French horn players, Radek Baborák resides at the very top, with little company. His burnished golden tone, sparkling articulation, and boundless musicality is astonishing to hear in this very difficult program of overtures by Telemann and Zelenka.
These two composers were writing for the natural, or hunting horn which was played before valves were added to brass instruments. Basically, it was a long metal hose that flared at the end. As a quick refresher on the harmonic series, if the lowest tone that this tube can produce is a B flat, the next higher note that can naturally be played would also be a B flat, one octave above. Speaking roughly, as some of these intervals are either too wide (sharp) or too narrow (flat), the next note is a fifth higher, then a fourth, a third, a minor third and a flat minor third, three whole steps, and a few out of tune whole steps until they all become half steps, or a chromatic scale. In order for Telemann or Zelenka to write a lyrical melody for the horn, this is where it had to be, in the very upper range of the instrument.
Because the notes are so close together, it takes tremendous control in the small muscles of the embouchure to produce the desired pitches. This is what makes the finesse and subtlety with which Mr. Baborák plays in that upper register so amazing.
I've said nothing of the music itself. I should note that, an "overture" at this time was not what we now understand it to be. It was not only an introductive single movement, but rather a "suite" of contrasting dance movements. This form would later blossom into the orchestral suite, popular all over Europe.
Radek Baborák, who was principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic from 2003 to 2010, plays with the Berliner Barock Solisten, a group founded in 1995 by members of the Berlin Philharmonic. The performances are superb, the music is a joy to listen to, and you get to hear a horn player who is without question among the top ranking few on the planet.
The music on this disc sounds like a sonic allegory on transience and futility, just like elapsing time or dwindling vitality. The "festive baroque" on these recordings demonstrates a delicate sensorium for the downside of earthly pleasures. It is inspired by the vanity of vanities. - Jan Dismas Zelenka
Zelenka’s pieces are characterized by very daring compositional structure, with a highly spirited harmonic invention and perfection of the art of counterpoint. His works are often virtuosic and difficult to perform, but always fresh and surprising, with sudden turns of harmony, being always a challenge for their interpreters. In particular, his writing for bass instruments is far more demanding than that of other composers of his era, notably the “utopian” (as Heinz Holliger describes them) demands of the oboe scores in his trio sonatas.
Telemann was one of the most prolific composers in history (at least in terms of surviving oeuvre) and was considered by his contemporaries to be one of the leading German composers of the time— he was compared favorably both to his friend Johann Sebastian Bach, who made Telemann the godfather and namesake of his son Carl Philipp Emanuel, and to George Frideric Handel, whom Telemann also knew personally.
Radek Baborak is one of the most exceptional hornist, winner of ARD Munich, Geneve and many others international competitions a former principal hornist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. As a soloist, he is a frequent guest of leading orchestras and cooperates with top conductors. His repertoire comprises of the complete horn work from baroque until the present.
Berliner Barock Solisten (Berlin Baroque Soloists)
Performers: Berliner Barock Solisten (Berlin Baroque Soloists)
Very few ensembles specializing in early music can display a level of artistic mastery akin to that of the Berliner Barock Solisten. Founded in 1995 by Rainer Kussmaul and other prominent members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, the musicians and their director (as first among equals) have created a unique approach to performing works of the 17th and 18th centuries.
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Jan Dismas Zelenka: Capriccio No. 3 in F major ZWV 184 - Movement III