Franz Joseph Haydn: The Complete Violin Concertos – Jean-Jacques Kantorow – Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Christian Benda
Franz Joseph HAYDN: Violin Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIa:1: I. Allegro moderato – II. Adagio – III. Finale. Presto – Violin Concerto in A Major, Hob. VIIa:3: I. Moderato – II. Adagio – III. Finale. Allegro – Violin Concerto in G Major, Hob. VIIa:4: I. Allegro moderato – II. Adagio – III. Finale. Allegro.
Jean-Jacques Kantorow, Violin – Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Christian Benda, Conductor.
Joseph Haydn’s Violin Concertos
Unlike his contemporaries, particularly Mozart, Haydn’s interest in concertos was rather limited. This may be due to his personal characteristics, which did not focus on virtuosity and acrobatic figures. Having no particular preference for any instrument, he did not emphasize any part of the compositional pattern. On the contrary, the evolution of his musical language and the elaboration of his thematic design led him to give more importance to the musical elements as a whole.
Over the years, many apocryphal concertos have been wrongly attributed to Joseph Haydn. This is especially evident in the case of violin concertos. According to his successive biographers, Haydn should have composed no less than eleven works for this instrument. However, with our current knowledge, only three can be undoubtedly authenticated (Hob VIIa1 in C, VIIa2 in D, and VIIa3 in A) and one very probably (Hob VIIa4 in G). All the other ones are apocryphal. The Concerto No. 2 in D is only known from Haydn’s personal catalogue, but the score has never been found. This is why this recording gathers the complete preserved violin concertos as of today.
In his personal catalogue, Haydn mentions the Violin Concerto No.1 in C, with the indication Concerto per il violino fatto per il luigi, meaning composed for Luigi Tomasini, first violin soloist of the Esterhazy orchestra. It was announced in Breitkopf’s catalogue of 1769 but published only in 1909 on the occasion of the centenary of the composer’s death. This concerto was probably composed shortly after Haydn arrived in Eisenstadt. Using only a string orchestra, it bears a mixture of influences from Austrian and Italian baroque traditions. The first movement is an Allegro moderato on a march rhythm, divided into three parts following the sonata form, each one introduced by the main theme. An Adagio in F follows, in which the soloist begins with a simple rising scale, then a long melody supported by the pizzicati of the orchestra. The final Presto is again in the sonata form.
The Concerto No.3 in A was likely composed in 1766 or 1767, again for Tomasini. For a long time, the score was considered lost until a manuscript copy of the work was found in Melk in 1949. In 1961, a second copy from Haydn’s time was found in Venice. In the Melk manuscript, the orchestra includes, apart from the strings, two parts for oboe and two for horns (probably authentic), while the Venice one indicates only the strings. The initial Moderato in the sonata form begins with a thematic material exposed by the orchestra in the introduction and repeated as the soloist steps in. Following is an Adagio molto in D, then a final Presto, very free in its formal aspect, and using the silences in a dramatic way very typical of the great Haydn.
Haydn’s personal catalogue does not mention the Violin Concerto No.4 in G. Like No.1, it was announced by Breitkopf in 1769 but published in 1909 only, after a copy since lost. A second copy was known in Vienna since 1777. These rare sources, as well as the absence of this concerto in the composer’s catalogue, do not permit to guarantee the authenticity of the work, although most probable. The initial Allegro moderato is based on a broad melody, typical of the Austrian baroque style. The central Adagio mixes a very emotional theme with a solemn rhythm. The final Allegro shows again a typical baroque style. This evident relationship between this work and the Austrian tradition, as well as the relative easiness of the soloist part, make one think that this concerto was composed before the three others, probably before Haydn arrived in Eisenstadt.
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