The alphorn's impressive size and extremely limited range (only 5 notes) has relegated it to the status of a novelty instrument. The liner notes describe when Jozsef Molnar, the soloist on this CD, asked the composer Jean Daetwyler to write an alphorn concerto, the composer responded with amusement whether he would prefer an ocarina concerto.
Perhaps because of its extra-musical associations, the alphorn's sound cannot help but evoke images of natural settings and forces. It is not suited to serious or profound subjects, as, for example, the flute or clarinet.
Nevertheless, the alphorn is possessed of a unique timbre, and Molnar's performance is nuanced and expressive. Leopold Mozart's "Sinfonia Pastorella" showcases the composer's mastery of classical form, given an added dimension by the use of this unusual instrument. He would undoubtedly hold a higher place in the musical canon had he not sacrificed his own career to further that of his admittedly more gifted son.
The highlight of the disc is Ferenc Farkas' "Concertino Rustico," with its animated interplay between the soloist and orchestra. Altogether this disc is a marvelous exploration of the capabilities of this unfortunately rarely-heard instrument.