At the tender age of nine, Felix Klieser dreamed of being able to play Mozart’s horn concertos. Today, 18 years later, that dream has finally come true and Felix Klieser now performs on the world’s foremost concert stages, playing the very works which are part of any horn player’s core repertoire. Yet he took his time before recording all four of Mozart’s horn concertos: only after releasing three successful CD albums and winning an ECHO Klassik award and the Leonard Bernstein Award did he go to Salzburg, in September 2018, to record them with the famous Camerata Salzburg ensemble. The album will be released on March 1, 2019.
Mozart always composed his works for wind instruments with a specific soloist in mind. Numerous anecdotes about those musicians and their relationship to Mozart abound. This goes for the horn concertos. The horn player Joseph Leutgeb, a close childhood friend of Mozart’s, was more than once the butt of the composer’s innate love of jests, mockery and similar sorts of nonsense. We know that Leutgeb once had to kneel in a corner until Mozart had finished composing, and was then ridiculed as an ass, ox and fool. Even in 1791, the year of his death, Mozart could not resist making fun of his friend, gleefully writing to his wife Constanze that he had called on Leutgeb as “a long-standing close acquaintance from Rome”, prompting Leutgeb to spruce himself up “like on a Sunday, putting on his finest clothes, and beautifully coiffed”. Nor could Mozart resist telling his “Stanzerl” how things had gone: “You can imagine how we laughed at him. I simply must have a fool on hand.”
Interpreting Mozart’s music is however not all fun; it requires hard work. Felix Klieser reports on his many years of studying and performing the music: “Sometimes, there is just half a bar between sorrow and joy. Working out the refinements of this music was perhaps the biggest challenge of this project. I consciously allowed myself plenty of time to familiarise myself over years with each little detail of this fantastic music and to work out my own interpretation of it, paying the greatest of respect to the composer.” The spirit of Mozart is nowhere more palpable than in Salzburg, the composer’s home city and nowadays something akin to a cult site. And there can hardly be a more suitable orchestra to play with than the Camerata Salzburg, since his music is in their blood. It is thanks to this constellation that Felix Klieser was able to present the perfect ideal of his take on Mozart’s music. “I am proud and immensely grateful that this childhood dream has now come true with the wonderful Camerata Salzburg. There can hardly be any other orchestra that gives such fantastic performances of Mozart’s works. Together we have explored the simply endless spectrum of the Mozartian sound world,” the hornist enthuses.
Camerata Salzburg is one of the leading chamber music orchestras worldwide. Their concert activities on home ground in Salzburg are enhanced by invitations to the great concert venues of the world, including New York and Beijing. The Camerata is one of the permanent ensembles at the Salzburg Festival and the Mozartwoche festival.
Hornist Felix Klieser (born in 1991) is an exceptional artist in every respect. He began learning to play the horn at the age of five. When he was seventeen he was a juvenile student at the College of Music and Drama in Hanover. Felix Klieser plays the valves of his horn with the toes of his left foot, having been born without arms. No easy task, one might think, but Felix Klieser sees this deficiency not as a burden but as a challenge. And in his successive phases of development the musician has risen to this challenge with perseverance and imagination.
Mozart’s Horn Concertos with the Camerata Salzburg represent his fourth album for the Berlin Classics label. Since 2013 Felix Klieser has released three recordings: his CD “Reveries – Romantic Music for Horn & Piano” features works by Glazunov, Glière, Rheinberger, Saint-Saëns, Schumann and Strauss. In 2015 this was followed by his first orchestral CD with the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra of Heilbronn under the baton of Ruben Gazarian, with horn concertos by Michael and Joseph Haydn, plus a Mozart fragment. Most recently, in 2017, he released his chamber music recording with Herbert Schuch (piano) and Andrej Bielow (violin). That recording features the famous Horn Trio by Johannes Brahms together with works by Frédéric Nicolas Duvernoy, Charles Koechlin and Robert Kahn.