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Rees, a London journalist, decided to face his midlife crisis by picking up the French horn-an instrument he hadn't played since he was a teenager-and whip himself back into shape so he could play a Mozart concerto in front of an audience in just one year. Luckily, he had one of England's best horn players to give him lessons, but it was still an uphill battle-for starters, the concerto was composed in the key of E flat, but the horn was tuned to F, so Rees (like every performer before him) had to transpose the notes down a tone as he played along. Along the way, he recounts the instrument's colorful history, including a playful recreation of the first performance of Handel's Water Music(when the hunting horn first appeared alongside more widely acknowledged "serious" instruments), and chats with many of the world's leading performers, as well as Holly Hunter and Ewan McGregor who, like Rees, played the instrument in their youth. Rees's self-assigned quest turns into an amiable romp with quiet bits of inspiration. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.