CD Reviews: Stolen Beauties, Anneke Scott (horn) with Ironwood. ABC Classics, 2015.


Acclaimed Australian period-instrument ensemble Ironwood and internationally renowned horn player Anneke Scott present a disc celebrating the music of Mozart, and exploring the composers who were seduced by its beauty, inspired by its innovation – and who crafted their own music around its most sublime moments.

Mozart’s Horn Quintet is one of the jewels in the crown of the composer’s chamber music. Mozart, a viola player himself, chose to balance the natural horn with two violas rather than the usual string quartet format, creating a melodious and sonorous sound which is brought to life in this recording through the use of instruments from Mozart’s time.

Mozart’s music was a source of great inspiration to many composers. The album opens with an anonymous work which takes its theme from the aria ‘Là ci darem la mano’ from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni. Michael Haydn’s Romance bears close relation to the slow movement of the Mozart E-flat major horn concerto; and the album also features an arrangement of Mozart’s ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio by the London-based Barham Livius. Works for horn by the Bohemian-born horn virtuoso Giovanni Punto, who played with Beethoven, complete the disc.


Historic Brass Society, 16th of December 2015
Eric Brummitt

Mozart: Stolen Beauties
Ironwood with Anneke Scott, natural & piston horns

Anneke Scott is a natural horn player of the highest order. Her recent releases of works by Gallay are incomparable, and this recording lives up to the same standard. Mozart: Stolen Beauties is a delightful collection of works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giovanni Punto, and Michael Haydn. Additionally, this recording features an incredibly demanding set of variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano” found among the music left behind by the Italian horn virtuoso Giovanni Puzzi. The composer of the variations remains unknown, but the piece gives us a wonderful snapshot of the virtuosity of Puzzi, a student of Luigi Belloli who greatly impressed Napoleon and then went on to become the foremost horn player in London during the first half of the 19th century.

Scott’s playing on this collection is sensitive throughout. Her articulations and tone quality consistently match the timbre of the other period instruments, from the velvety string sounds to the delicate sound of the fortepiano. There are many moments throughout the recording in which the strings and horns emulate each other’s portamentos with great ease.

Aside from the incredible set of variations that opens this recording, there are two very interesting presentations. One is an arrangement of Mozart’s “Kegelstatt” Trio (originally for clarinet, viola, and piano) set for horn, viola, cello, and piano. This Concertante setting was arranged by Barham Livius (1787–1865). Livius was a pupil of Giovanni Puzzi’s and a businessman in London, and similar to the variations on “Là ci darem la mano,” Livius’s arrangement was found in the folio of works left behind by Puzzi. The other pieces on this recording that are of particular interest are three movements from Giovanni Punto’s duets for horn and cello, especially since there may be no other recording available of these pieces on period instruments (at least as far as I am aware).

Read the full review here

La Revue du Corniste, November 2015
Vincent Andrieux

Chamber Music by Mozart, Punto and Michael Haydn par Anneke Scott, cor naturel et à pistons accompagnée par l'ensemble Ironwood.

Avec un élégance toute particulère dans le Quintette KV407 et une version fort convaincante du Trio des quilles KV498 à l'origine pour clarinette, alto et piano de Mozart, Anneke Scott signe un magnifique CD consacré en majorité à des pièces rarement sinon jamais enregistrées : la ravissante Romance empruntée à Wolfgang de Michaël Haydn, trois duos pour cor et violoncelle (à l'origine pour basson) de Punto ainsi qu'un Air varié d'un compositeur inconnu sur un thème de Don Giovanni. La prise de son naturelle et très aérée renforce l'osmose parfaite entre la corniste et ses partenaires qui nous offrent notamment des deux chefs-d'oeuvre du divin Mozart une vision pleine d'équillibre et de grâce ! L'arrangement réalisé pour cor, alto, cello et piano par Barham Livius à partir du Trio des quilles est excellent d'intelligence musicale et trouve ici toute sa place. Interprété à ravir par Anneke Scott et ses amis d'Ironwood. Le livret signé aussi par notre soliste donne comme à l'ordinaire des détails bienvenus sur les oeuvres et les musiciens de cette époque, mais il gagnerait à être traduit dans la langue de Molière car certaines tournures sont très idiomatiques.

French sleeve notes available here!

With particular elegance in the Quintet KV 407, and a very convincing version of Kegelstatt Trio KV498, originally for clarinet, viola and piano, of Mozart, Anneke Scott brings us a beautiful CD devoted mainly to rarely, if ever, recorded pieces: the lovely Romance borrowed from Wolfgang by Michael Haydn, three duets for horn and cello (originally bassoon) by Punto, and an Air varié on a theme from Don Giovanni by an unknown composer. A natural, airy sound strengthens the perfect osmosis between the horn and her partners who offer us, notably in the two masterpieces by the divine Mozart, a vision of balance and of grace! The arrangement of the Kegelstatt for horn, viola, cello and piano by Barham Livius shows excellent musical intelligence and holds its place here, played to perfection by Anneke Scott and her friends in Ironwood. The CD booklet, written by our soloist gives, as usual, all the welcome details of the works and the musicians of the time, but it deserves to be translated into the language of Molière because some expressions are very idiomatic.

The Horn Call - Journal of the International Horn Society
46.1 (Oct 2015): 92-93.
Lydia van Dreel

Brilliant on both the natural horn and the piston horn, Anneke Scott teams up on this recording with Ironwood, an Australian early music ensemble, to explore Mozart's Quintet for horn and strings and some lesser known works that are tangentially related to the quintet centerpiece in various ways.

Air varié pour corno is based on the familiar Mozart aria from Don Giovanni, "Là ci darem la mano." The aria is known from a folio associated with the 19th century horn virtuoso Giovanni Puzzi (1792-1876). Unfortunately, the name of the composer is almost impossible to decipher from the manuscript. The folio, bequeathed to the British Library, contains works, some by Puzzi himself, and other miscellaneous composers, often based on opera arias of the time. The works in the folio demonstrate what must have been his high level of virtuosity.

Michael Haydn's Romance for horn and string quartet is instantly recognizable as the theme to the second movement of Mozart's horn concerto K. 447. Evidence is inconclusive as to whether Mozart or Michael Haydn wrote the melody first. Historically, there has been confusion over their respective authorship of various pieces. The liner notes offer detailed information about the history of this music and a plausible suggestion for how and why these two composers wrote such similar pieces.

Composer, arranger, hornist, and perhaps unscrupulous thief, Barham Livius (1787-1865) was a student of Puzzi, and this arrangement of a "Sonata by Mozart" is, in fact, the Kegelstatt Trio KV 498 for clarinet, violin and piano, and is the last piece found in Puzzi's folio. On this recording, Scott uses the mixed technique of hand horn stopping and piston valves, inspired by an instrument in the Horniman Collection in London, which is known to have belonged to both Livius and his teacher, Puzzi. The instrument, originally a natural horn, was fitted with a two-valve saturelle block, enabling a greater variety of open chromatic notes. According to the liner notes, Livius' writing includes many notes which are not traditionally used in compositions for natural horn, hence the choice to use the mixed technique.

Interspersed between the larger works are three movements by Giovanni Punto, known in his day to be the greatest horn virtuoso in the world. In the spirit of this recording, these pieces, originally duets for horn and bassoon, have been transcribed for horn and cello.

Anneke Scott's playing is vibrantly expressive and seemingly effortless in the familiar Mozart quintet for horn and strings. Similarly, the Ironwood ensemble brings a level of ease and finesse to original instrument performances rarely heard.

This is a beautiful collection. The performances are impeccable in their detail and nuance, and the choice of repertoire is fascinating. The disc comes with comprehensive liner notes about the history of the works, the musicians of the day, and the musicians on the recording. This is a must have for any student of original instrument performances and a great listen for any lover of Mozart and his contemporaries

Birmingham Post, 20th of August 2015
Norman Stinchcombe

Mozart Stolen Beauties: Ironwood with Anneke Scott

"How Anneke Scott found the time to record this entertaining album is a wonder. In between being principal horn for no fewer than eight baroque orchestras, teaching period horn at the University of Birmingham and writing an entertaining music blog she teamed up with the Australian period instruent ensemble Ironwood. And, wonder of wonders, it's an album largely devoted to Mozart, which doesn't feature his horn concertos. Instead we have the E flat major Horn Quintet and an arrangement of Mozart's Kegelstatt trio K.498, with Scott's horn replacing the clarinet. She plays both natural and early piston horn on this disc brilliantly - listen to the arrangement La ci darem la mano (from Don Giovanni) for bravura playing - and their raspy tangy timbre contrasts well with the period strings and the mellow-toned fortepiano of Neal Peres da Costa. Short works by Mozart's contemporaries Michael Haydn and Giovanni Punto are enjoyable bonuses."

Horn Matters, 30th of July 2015
John Ericson

Brief reviews: Recent recordings by Anneke Scott, natural and piston horns

Getting it out right away, I love these recordings and basically everything about them. The performances are excellent, production and packaging excellent, and that they are mostly recordings of works that are pretty much not known today that deserve to be better known is also outstanding.

First up is Mozart: Stolen Beauties, chamber music by Mozart, Punto, and Michael Haydn. This recording is simply stunning. If you like natural horn and the music of Mozart at all you simply must obtain this CD.

I really love this CD. I may connect to it so much as I am familiar with some of the music and appreciate how the Mozart themes and works were reworked by musicians back in the day. I was especially taken by the Mozart arrangement by Barham Livius (1787-1865) for pianoforte, horn, viola, and cello, performed on the early valved horn. This work is for an unusual combination but extremely attractive — and also, as I am working on a recording project of my own involving early valved horn (series of articles starts here), I recognize and appreciate the challenges. This was no simple recording to make.

Speaking to challenges, Scott meets them all beautifully. Wonderful intonation, phrasing, great music making. Besides the unusual Mozart arrangements and little known works, the CD concludes with the Mozart Quintet K. 407. A wonderful performance by Scott and the period-instrument ensemble Ironwood.

Read the full review here.

Early Music Reviews, 25th of July 2015
Andrew Benson-Wilson

Mozart: Stolen Beauties
Ironwood with Anneke Scott, natural & piston horns
St George Hanover Square, 21 June 2015
and ABC Classics. ABC 481 1244

"A CD launch concert in Handel’s own parish church of St George, Hanover Square featured the programme from the CD ‘Mozart: Stolen Beauties’. Ironwood is an Australian period instrument ensemble formed in 2006. They were joined by the distinguished horn player Anneke Scott, here playing both natural (or ‘hand’) and piston horn.

The most obvious and startling example of borrowing came with the opening piece, the anonymous Air varié pour corno dating from 1845. An almost symphonic opening sequence full of suspense and with hints of an emerging grand theme suddenly bursts into the well-known Mozart aria ‘Là ci darem la mano’ from Don Giovanni. A series of dramatic variations showed the sheer virtuosity of Anneke Scott’s horn playing to good effect, notable with the distinctive colours of the natural horn, with many notes missing from the available harmonic series having to be achieved by positioning the hand in the bell of the instrument. 

The concert, given to an impressively large and enthusiastic audience, 
was enlivened by some well-chosen explanations and demonstrations by Anneke Scott." 

Read the full review here.

Fine Music Magazine, July 2015,
Barry Walmsley

Mozart: Stolen Beauties
Ironwood, with Anneke Scott (Horn)
ABC Classics 481 1244

"It was common practice in bygone centuries to reuse material from one’s own work, as well as that from others. Autograph manuscript went missing sometimes, and so the work of musicologists was to put together the pieces of such a puzzle. Here, chamber music by Mozart, Punto and Michael Haydn is heard played with exquisite taste by Australia’s leading early music ensemble, alongside one of the world’s leading exponents of early horn performance practice, Anneke Scott. This disc is an intimate journey into the lives of Mozart and his contemporaries. The selections give us a glimpse into three brilliant horn players of the time, Joseph Leitgeb, Giovanni Punto and Giovanni Puzzi, as well as the latter’s pupil, Barham Livius.

Modern-day scholarship coupled with authentic performance practice, as heard on this revelatory recording, provides the listener with a true insight into the past."

Read the full review here.

Classical CD Reviews, July 2015
Gavin Dixon 

Review: Mozart: Stolen Beauties and Songs of Love, War and Melancholy.

""You’ll learn much from them about horn virtuosi of the Classical and Romantic eras, but without it ever feeling like a history lesson."

"Stolen Beauties hovers around the music of Mozart, but is more concerned with its reception and reinvention in the early 19th century. Two major Mozart works are included, a concertante, arranged by Barham Livius from the “Kegelstatt” Trio, and the E flat Major Horn Quintet. These are joined by an anonymous fantasy on “Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni, an arrangement by Michael Haydn of the slow movement of Mozart’s Third Horn Concerto for horn quintet, and three duos for horn and cello by Punto himself. Ironwood, the accompanying ensemble, is an Australian period instrument group here made up of violins, violas, cello and fortepiano. Some of the arrangements are quite large, especially the Don Giovanni fantasia that opens the programme, but good balance is always maintained, with the horn never struggling for dominance. The string players avoid vibrato but still achieve a broad, round tone with plenty of expression. Predictably, perhaps, Giovanni Punto doesn’t come out too well in comparison to Mozart. Mozart’s melodic genius carries this album, and is all too obviously missing in the short Punto interpolations. But then, Punto has the upper hand when it comes to writing for the horn, and the instrument is beautifully displayed in each of his short movements.

Anneke Scott is credited as playing natural and piston horns, but in fact she plays the same instrument throughout. It has a sauterelle, a detachable valve section taking the place of the instrument’s crook – usually, as in this case, a later addition to an earlier instrument. As is clear from the playing on both of these albums, Anneke needs no help from such technology to achieve the many technical feats the music requires. But from her research, the detachable valve section was probably associated with some of this music, so she uses it for the different colour palate it offers."

Read the full review here.

The Music Trust, July 1st, 2015
Alistair Noble 

Ironwood with Anneke Scott, natural and piston horns
ABC Classics 481 1244 

“This CD is a remarkable and important project, accompanied by very informative notes written by Scott herself. It introduces us to a world of music that is otherwise all too little known, and Scott’s research and prodigious playing brings to life some lovely forgotten music and also sheds new and brilliant light on composers we thought we knew. For horn enthusiasts, the sheer virtuosity of her playing is jaw-dropping. For the rest, we are seduced by the intelligence and liveliness of the music and these marvellously expressive performances.”

Read the full review here.

HORNWORLD • June 29, 2015
James Boldin

Review: Mozart: Stolen Beauties

"The result of this novel approach to programming is an album full of obscure, but nonetheless beautiful, works for horn and various combinations of strings and piano. The exception is of course Mozart’s well-known Quintet, but the interpretation recorded here makes for very enjoyable listening as well. There is a freshness and presence to this album that rivals anything I’ve heard from modern instruments. Like the Gallay recordings, the liner notes are meticulously researched, yet pleasant and easy to read. Horn players will be especially interested in the recording of Michael Haydn’s Romance in A-flat major, which bears a striking resemblance to the Romanza movement from Mozart’s K. 447 concerto. Scott’s explanation and subsequent thesis regarding this peculiar work are quite convincing. I must say that after listening to both works back to back the Haydn seems more musically interesting!

Also of note is Scott’s use of a hybrid instrument, a natural horn by Courtois Frères, Paris, c. 1835, with a removable set of piston valves (sauterelle) by Antoine Halary, Paris, c. 1840. She seamlessly combines both hand horn and valve technique in her recording of Mozart’s Concertante for pianoforte, horn, viola, and cello, arranged by Barham Livius.

On a related topic I’ll close with a general statement about Scott’s natural horn playing, which incorporates lots of different colors and expressive contrasts. There are varying schools of thought regarding hand horn technique, one of which emphasizes absolute evenness and consistency of sound between stopped and open notes. While there is merit to this approach, I personally enjoy hearing a difference in stopped and open timbres, especially when in the hands of a consummate musician like Anneke Scott. When performed tastefully, these contrasts add an elusive, but very important, quality to the music of that era. As a primarily modern (valved) horn player, I have been inspired by these recordings to strive for more expression and timbral variations in my own playing. I think you will as well!"

Read the full review here.