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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) was a violinist and created a vast body of work for his instrument, but was clearly fascinated by the possibilities presented by other instruments. His Concerto in F for two horns conjures up the outdoors and hunting calls associated with the horn, but the solo parts are too virtuosic to sound trite. The horns lay out during the D-minor slow movement, which is typical in Vivaldi concertos for brass instruments. Natural horns don’t navigate minor keys as well as major keys, and in any case few if any composers before Mozart seem to have thought it a good idea to have horns singing in a slow movement. Then again, Vivaldi may have just wanted to let the players rest their lips.
- Howard Posner