Of the huge compositional output of Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) his concertos are probably among the least known to the general listening public. This is a pity since there is much to enjoy, particularly in the keyboard concertos. Indeed, during the composer’s lifetime his Concerto for clavier and orchestra in D major, Hob.XVIII:11 gained much popularity.
The Concerto for clavier and orchestra in D major features on a re-release in Harmonia Mundi’s excellent mid-price hmGold series www.harmoniamundi.com/#!/themes/hm-gold along with Haydn’s Concerto for clavier and strings in G major, Hob.XVIII:4 and Double concerto for klavier, violin and strings in F major, Hob. XVIII:6 played by Andreas Staier www.andreas-staier.de with Gottfried von der Goltz www.barockorchester.de/das-orchester/ensemble/violine/gottfried-von-der-goltz.html as soloist and directing the Freiburger Barockorchester www.barockorchester.de
Andreas Staier plays a very fine copy of an Anton Walter fortepiano (Vienna, 1785) built by Monika May (Marburg, 1986) www.monika-may.de .
While there is no firm evidence as to the composition date of the Concerto for klavier and strings in G major, Hob.XVIII:4, a date of c. 1770 has been suggested, we do know that it was played at the Concert spirituel in Paris by the famous blind Viennese pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759–1824) in the spring of 1784 and published shortly afterwards. Later the same year Mozart composed his Piano Concerto in B flat major, K456, for Paradis. There is some lovely, crisp playing from the Freiburger Barockorchester in the opening of the Allegro. When Andreas Staier enters he brings an equally crisp touch, extracting the most lovely textures from his instrument. Between them soloist and orchestra bring a very fine rhythmic bounce, a real joy. Centrally the strings find some terrific textures with some wonderfully fluent passages from Staier. The cadenza is wonderfully done, revealing so many textures and tones from this instrument.
The Adagio brings more fine textures and sonorities from the wonderful Freiburgers with Staier adding beautiful phrasing, quite exquisitely accompanied by the strings. There is a delicate cadenza which builds to some more incisive and florid moments.
The Finale. Rondo Presto races forward with terrific panache, Staier again showing his tremendous fluency, achieving a finely sprung touch from his instrument, picking up on Haydn’s humour as he goes. As the movement progress there are some tremendous textures for fortepiano and orchestra before the cadenza, again a light-hearted affair, and a crisp orchestral coda.
Haydn’s Double concerto for klavier, violin and strings in F major, Hob. XVIII:6 was advertised in 1766 in the catalogue of Breitkof but is believed to have been written much earlier, possibly around 1756. The opening Allegro moderato brings some finely shaped phrases from the strings of the Freiburger Barockorchester, with some really incisive phrasing. Staier brings a lovely poise when he enters, soon joined by the violin of Gottfried von der Goltz. They quickly engage in a lovely dialogue with moments of almost chamber music intimacy. Between them all, they bring some quite lovely textures with the fortepiano and violin weaving a fine cadenza, finding the most sensitive moments, beautifully shaped.
The Largo brings some fine sonorities as the music is drawn slowly forward in the orchestra. The solo violin enters over beautifully poised pizzicato string phrases to which the fortepiano adds some beautifully decorated phrases. Both soloists find some lovely little turns of phrase, shaping the notes wonderfully with a cadenza that brings moments of wit and good humour.
The Freiburgers bring a spirited opening to the Presto to which the fortepiano soon joins, before fortepiano and violin weave some terrific moments, both soloists appearing to enjoy themselves immensely. This is music that is full of life and buoyancy as the players bring wonderfully shaped, lightly rhythmic phrases.
The beginning of the 1780’s saw Haydn writing his Concerto for cello and orchestra in D major Hob. VIIb:2 along with his Concerto for clavier and orchestra in D major, Hob.XVIII:11. The precise date of composition is not known but it was published in 1784.
The Freiburger Barockorchester brings a real vibrancy to the opening of the Vivace to which Staier brings a crisp, finely shaped fortepiano line. There is wonderful control of dynamics with moments of delicacy set against a strength and fluency to marvel at. There are some particularly fine moments of orchestral precision as they dovetail with the soloist through passages of fine textures before the cadenza arrives in which the soloist finds some lovely phrases that reveal more aspects of his fine instrument.
Haydn’s lovely orchestration is laid bare by the orchestra in the Un poco adagio. When Staier enters he delicately shapes the phrases with subtle little decorations, always finding a way to point up phrases. There are some quite wonderfully subtle, quieter moments for soloist and orchestra and a cadenza that soon finds a fast and furious pace around which there are lovely quieter, slower moments.
There is a rollicking, brilliantly crisp opening to the Rondo all'Ungarese for soloist and orchestra, Staier bringing terrific fluency, precision and sheer joy as the music hurtles along, full of vintage Haydn. He extracts some stunning timbres from his instrument through some terrific passages in the cadenza.
Andreas Staier, Gottfried von der Goltz and the Freiburger Barockorchester provide absolutely terrific performances bringing a feeling of sheer enjoyment. They receive an absolutely first rate recording, rich, detailed and with terrific presence and there are excellent booklet notes.
Presentation is first rate with the CD and booklet presented in a nicely illustrated box.
In short, if you didn’t get this disc first time around, don’t delay, get it now. There is some quite wonderful Haydn here.