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CD booklet
Mozart Concertos pour cor

MusicWeb International
October 6, 2017

It took me a little while to warm to the sound quality of this disc. The opening was something of a shock, with a seemingly unflattering rendering of the violin tone of the Violins du Roy in Mozart’s Horn Concerto no.2. However, I quickly got accustomed to it and realised the sound was nothing like as unfavourable as I at first thought. This is a fine ensemble of just fifteen strings plus the necessary wind players. And they play very stylishly despite being not helped, at least initially, by the recorded sound.

The two soloists, both closely associated with the orchestra, are fine executants, who give performances which are not only technically assured but warm and full of warmth, lyricism and humour.

The horn concertos themselves are a curious bunch; all written for Mozart’s friend, the so-called ‘Ignaz Leutgeb’ (real name Joseph Leitgeb), who ran a cheese shop in Vienna, but had known Mozart in Salzburg. The second, third and fourth concertos were written from 1783–86 in Vienna; but the so-called first concerto is in fact the last, belonging to 1791. It lacks a slow movement, which suggests, along with the many other missing details, that Mozart was unable to finish it before death intervened.

Marsolais plays these works with a beautifully smooth tone, and is brilliant in the occasional bravura passages. His tone is creamy he is playing on a modern horn of course and quite open, having none of the ‘bottled up’ quality we sometimes hear from American (US) players. His relaxed, flexible playing in the slow movements greatly enhances the impression they make. Marsolais has provided his own cadenzas, which are not too long and quite acceptable.

Mathieu Lussier, who directs the ensemble throughout as well as being the bassoon soloist, is an equally accomplished player. The bassoon concerto was Mozart’s first for a wind instrument, and is a miraculously perfect piece, for which bassoonists have every reason to thank the heavens. Again, the soloist uses his own cadenzas, and plays with an easy virtuosity that is admirable (and enviable!). I could perhaps do with a slightly more expansive lyricism in the Andante after all, this is a ‘tenor aria’ but overall the performance is of a very high standard.

All of these works especially the 3rd and 4th horn concertos and the bassoon concertos are heavily represented on disc. But I can honestly recommend this CD confidently, despite the competition of hornists Dennis Brain (EMI), Barry Tuckwell (Decca), Gerd Seifert (DG) and Alan Civil (Philips), and bassoonists Klaus Thunemann (Philips), Kim Walker (Gallo) and the superb Martin Kuuskmann (ERP) to name but a few! Unless, of course, you are after performances on the natural horn, in which Anthony Halstead (Decca), for my money, still reigns supreme.

Balance between soloists and ensemble is exemplary in all cases.

Gwyn Parry-Jones - MusicWeb International

July 19, 2017

4 Diapasons

« Sur un cor moderne, Louis-Philippe Marsolais s'en tire avec les honneurs : la sonorité reste constamment mordante, les figures d'agilité sont phrasées avec une souplesse délectable et les inflexions rugueuses de l'instrument se tempèrent dans les romances. [...] Chef attentis et précis, Mathieu Lussier est aussi un impeccable bassoniste dans le concerto que le jeune Mozart tailla pour son instrument : la qualité des phrasés, la verve rythmique qu'il déploie et le son bigarré, plus moelleux que bougonnant, qu'il tire de son basson couronnent l'album. »

Jean-Luc Marcia - Diapason (France)

Pour la critique complète, cliquez ICI 

American Record Guide
June 27, 2017

Lovely accounts by first-rate horn and bassoon soloists with Quebec’s superb chamber orchestra, Violons du Roy. Louis-Philippe Marsolais, “Canada’s most active horn soloist”, has a uniformly soft and round tone in all registers and uses light articulations to create a buoyant playing style. The same can be said of bassoonist Mathieu Lussier, also guest conductor here.

Perhaps the most unusual readings are of the finale of Horn Concerto 2, decidedly restrained in tempo, and the slow movement of the Bassoon Concerto, where Lussier and the orchestra keep the volume way down and bring out mysterious qualities I have not heard before.

© Barry Kilpatrick - American Record Guide  

April 28, 2017

Canadian horn player Louis-Philippe Marsolais gives a deeply musical and beautifully shaped performance of Mozart’s Horn Concertos. Conducted by Mathieu Lussier, Les Violons du Roy pay attention to details in a gracious and elegant playing, so that this fine recording gives great pleasure.

Der Kanadier Louis-Philippe Marsolais, Solohornist des ‘Orchestre Métropolitain’ in Montreal und des Bläserquintetts ‘Pentaèdre’, von Yannick Nézet-Séguin als seiner der besten Hornisten der Welt bezeichnet, spielt mit den ‘Violons du Roy’ Mozarts Hornkonzerte Nr. 2-4 sowie das zweisätzige D-Dur-Konzert Nr. 1 in der neuen Fassung von Robert D. Levin.

Marsolais spielt mit tadelloser Intonation und schön ausgewogenem Klang. Kein Naturhorn kommt hier zum Einsatz, sondern ein modernes Horn. Auch das Orchester spielt auf modernem Instrumentarium und überzeugt durch einen runden, warmen Klang sowie perfektes Phrasieren. Klangkultur ist sowohl beim Solisten als auch beim Orchester ein oberstes Anliegen.

Genauso gepflegt erklingt das Fagottkonzert mit dem exzellenten Mathieu Lussier als Solist.

Remy Franck - Pizzicato
April 10, 2017

Although established in the Baroque era as a way to contrast one or more solo instruments with a larger complement, the concerto evolved significantly, and quite quickly, as composers realized its potential, and as instruments—and their players—became more and more adept at more and more complex performance techniques. Concertos were often written for specific performers: Mozart wrote many of his piano concertos for himself and others for his pupils. His horn concertos, however, were written for Joseph Leitgeb (1732–1811), and matched so well to Leitgeb’s abilities that it is possible to note the considerable skill required in the early concertos and the diminution of Leitgeb’s ability, for which Mozart made allowances, later on. Sometimes played on the natural horn for which they were written, sometimes on a valve horn, the four completed concertos are by any standards music of great beauty and wonderful flow. Louis-Philippe Marsolais plays them with understanding as well as skill on a new ATMA Classique recording that also features the clean, clear and chamber-like sound of Les Violons du Roy under Mathieu Lussier. Indeed, the lightness of the scoring and the clarity of pacing and balance are major attractions throughout the CD, which also includes a standalone horn movement, Rondo, K371, that was probably intended to be part of a fifth concerto but never made it that far. There is polish as well as hunting-horn proclamation in Marsolais’ handling of all the horn works, and Lussier gives him fine backup throughout. And then Lussier himself shines forth as soloist in Mozart’s earliest wind concerto, for bassoon—a work that allows the bassoon to show its virtuosic capabilities and its emotive ones as well, with its better-known clownish and bubbly sounds reserved for the final movement. Lussier seems genuinely to enjoy playing this music, taking his instrument through all its paces while retaining exemplary control of the ensemble.

© 2017

Magazine Son et Image
April 10, 2017

 « Vous ne trouverez aucune faille dans l'interprétation du corniste Louis-Philippe Marsolais, particulièrement à l'aise dans les cadences. Celles-ci sont empreintes d'une belle virtuosité et de quelques accents malicieux. Idem pour la direction de Mathieu Lussier, qui exploite très bien les sonorités chatoyantes des Violons du Roy. [...] Un très beau disque. »

Pierre Dallaire - Magazine Son & Image

Full review HERE

The WholeNote
March 28, 2017

 At the time I was working on my RCM Grade 7 piano, my slightly younger brother Kevin, who was still in high school and had taken up the French horn, was working on one of the Mozart concertos and asked me to accompany him. Although I was simply not up to the challenge, it was an enlightening introduction to these great pieces. I remember my brother going to see Barry Tuckwell performing with the Toronto Symphony and explaining that, with an instrument comprised of 12 feet of coiled tubing, even the best horn players never really know for sure what note will come out. I don’t know if this was a commentary on Tuckwell’s performance or just a general statement. Be that as it may, if the new recording of the Mozart Horn Concertos with Les Violons du Roy (ATMA ADC2 2743) is any indication, Louis-Philippe Marsolais can be fairly confident of his ability to produce the right notes. Touted as Canada’s most active horn soloist, Marsolais is a multiple award-winner with an international solo and chamber career. Since 2009 he has also been principal horn in Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Orchestre Metropolitain and is a frequent collaborator with Les Violons du Roy. As alluded to above, his intonation is impeccable and his tone is exemplary. This recording includes the three familiar concertos that Mozart completed, all in E-flat (Nos.2-4), plus the two-movement D-Major concerto known as No.1, here in Mozart’s original version completed by modern-day musicologist Robert D. Levin (as opposed to the version by Mozart’s coeval Franz Xaver Süssmayr). Also included is Levin’s edition of the lesser known Rondo K371 in E-flat Major. Marsolais provides his own convincing cadenzas in all five works. The disc is completed by the Concerto for Bassoon in B-flat Major K191 featuring the dulcet tone and impressive agility of Mathieu Lussier, who also serves as conductor for the entire project.

David Olds - TheWholeNote

ICI Musique
March 27, 2017

Lorsqu’on parle des concertos de Mozart, on a spontanément en tête ses célèbres concertos pour piano ou encore ceux pour violon. Si l'on est un peu plus averti, on pense peut-être aussi à son Concerto pour clarinette ou à son Concerto pour flûte et harpe. En revanche, peu d’entre nous connaissent vraiment les concertos pour cor de Mozart. Et pour cause : ils sont généralement beaucoup moins joués et beaucoup moins enregistrés que leurs cousins pour piano ou violon. Ces pages concertantes pour cor sont pourtant des chefs-d’œuvre, et c’est l’un des mérites du présent album que de rendre justice à ces joyaux du répertoire mozartien.

Comme l’évoque le chef Mathieu Lussier dans ses notes de livret, les vents sont omniprésents dans l’œuvre de Mozart. Ils contribuent indispensablement à la lumière et à la pureté qui émanent de sa musique. Le compositeur savait mettre en valeur ces instruments, et tout au long de sa trop brève carrière, il a maintenu de nombreuses amitiés avec les plus grands instrumentistes à vent de son temps. De ces relations, celle qu’il a entretenue avec le réputé corniste viennois Joseph Leutgeb a été particulièrement féconde. C’est à son intention que Mozart a composé ses quatre concertos pour cor, de 1782 à 1791.

Musique tour à tour élégante et brillante, tendre et noble, elle montre tout le potentiel expressif et lyrique de ce bel instrument qu’est le cor. Le talentueux corniste québécois Louis-Philippe Marsolais se révèle dans ce disque un merveilleux mozartien : sonorité idéale, phrasé impeccable, respect du style; il signe ici une version hautement recommandable de ces concertos interprétés au cor moderne. Dirigés par leur chef associé Mathieu Lussier, Les Violons du Roy sont les partenaires rêvés de cette aventure et nous montrent encore une fois leur grand savoir-faire en musique ancienne. Et comment ne pas remercier l’indispensable maison de disques Atma pour cette autre belle contribution au catalogue classique québécois!

Frédéric Trudel - ICI Musique


Le Devoir
March 3, 2017

★★★★ ½

Yannick Nézet-Séguin révéla un jour au public qu’il considérait Louis-Philippe Marsolais comme « l’un des plus grands cornistes au monde ». Aussi, le premier immense coup de chapeau ira, ici, à ATMA : il est rassurant de voir une telle exemplarité de l’utilisation des aides publiques en exclusive faveur de la promotion de la richesse, de la multiplicité et de la variété des talents d’ici. Dans Mozart, les 30 dernières années ont favorisé l’utilisation d’un cor naturel. Anthony Halstead est mon préféré. Marsolais et Lussier, au diapason (plus haut que chez Halstead-Hogwood) des Violons du Roy, nous offrent avec vigueur le confort de l’instrument moderne. Sur ce créneau, le CD ATMA (prise de son idéale pour le cor mais trop proche pour le basson), surpasse même les Orpheus chez DG ! « La » version de référence des Concertos pour cor de Mozart made in Québec ? Pas impossible…

Christophe Huss – Le Devoir