There is a very positive review in Fanfare magazine (March/April
issue) for the Radek Baborák's album featuring Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante
and Music fo French Horn, which was released in October 2018.
Fanfare is an American bimonthly magazine devoted to
reviewing recorded music in all playback formats. It mainly covers classical
music, but since inception, has also featured a jazz column in every issue.
„Baborák leads a pick-up orchestra (the Baborák Ensemble) and defers
to his colleague Radovan Vlatković as the horn soloist. From the first notes,
the listener is struck by the richness and depth of sound; it is difficult to
accept that the tiny ensemble, consisting of a mere 13 strings plus pairs of
oboes and horns, can sound like a full-size orchestra. The engineering is
superb; one can almost imagine the old Philadelphia Orchestra coming from the
speakers. Speaking of Philadelphia, both Stokowski and Ormandy recorded the
Sinfonia concertante with the Orchestra’s legendary first-desk players
(both recordings were with clarinet), but neither comes close to the performance
we have from Baborák and friends. The playing from both soloists and orchestra
is infused with the kind of drive, spirit, bloom, alertness, boldness – call
it what you will – that commands undivided attention from beginning to end.
Stokowski and Ormandy sound stiff and stodgy by comparison.
Baborák’s performance manages to be both velvety and transparent – a
winning combination. The soloists have been drawn from past or present posts in
Europe’s most prestigious orchestras: the flute from the Vienna Philharmonic,
the oboe and horn from the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the bassoon from the
Munich Philharmonic. Everyone is on the same wavelength, phrases are lovingly
and identically shaped, balance is perfect, and some of the virtuosic licks they
toss off in the finale will make your hair stand on end.
If there is anything that might detract from the description of this release as
“perfect,” it is just possibly that some listeners will feel that the
musicians are too closely miked. But this only contributes to the brilliance of
the performances, and the playing is absolutely flawless, so the issue hardly
matters. This is an essential release for all horn players and all Mozart