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8.550059 - HAYDN: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / BOCCHERINI: Cello Concerto in B-Flat Major
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)Celloe Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb 1
Allegro molto Cello Concerto in D Major, Hob. VIIb 2
Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)
The greater part of Joseph Haydn’s working life was spent in the service of the Princes of Esterhazy, from 1766 in the magnificent new palace built in the Hungarian marshes on the site of a former hunting-lodge. There Haydn was the director of a musical establishment that included an opera-house, a puppet-theatre and an orchestra, as well as the usual obligations of church music. For much of the time he served the prince known as Prince Nikolaus the Magnificent, a patron with a keen understanding of music & a particular liking for the baryton, a stringed instrument with added sympathetic strings that could also be plucked, a fact that led the English musician Dr. Burney to describe it as only suited to a desert island, where a player might pluck his own accompaniment.
The death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790 released Haydn from his regular duties at Esterhaza, although he retained the title of Kapellmeister to the Esterhazys until his death in Vienna in 1809. He was able to travel twice to England, where he was made
much of, and to settle in Vienna to enjoy in his final years the kind of society that had largely been denied him earlier in his career.
Haydn was a prolific composer, with some 106 symphonies to his credit, 83 quartets and 175 works for baryton, among much else. He wrote relatively few concertos, some 30 in all, if we are to accept all that have been attributed to him. Of three known cello concertos, two survive, the first of them, the Concerto in C Major, discovered in Prague in 1961 and dated 1765, the year before the Esterhazy establishment moved to the new palace.
Haydn’s Cello Concerto in C Major is in the usual three movements. The first of these opens with an orchestral introduction after which the soloist enters in the grand style associated with this choice of key for the cello, its most resonant. The soloist is allowed to make much of the lyrical possibilities of the thematic material, as well as providing an element of technical panache in the central section and the cadenza. There follows a slow movement, scored for strings only, which offers music of quiet intensity before the brilliant finale, with its impressive display of the technical possibilities of the cello.
Haydn’s Concerto in D Major was at one time thought to be the work of Anton Kraft, the cellist of the Esterhaza orchestra, who presumably offered help in the writing of the solo part. It is, however, the work of Haydn and was written in 1783. Like the earlier surviving concerto it is scored for pairs of oboes and French horns, with strings.
The concerto opens with an orchestral introduction in which the two principal themes of the first movement are presented, followed by the solo cello with an embellished version of the same material. The expressive A major slow movement is followed by a lively rondo, diverted briefly into a dramatic D minor, before its cheerful conclusion.
The Italian cellist and composer Luigi Boccherini was often compared, in his life-time, with Haydn, particularly in his chamber music. Nowadays he is seen in rather a different perspective, although one or two of his works remain extremely popular.
Boccherini was born in Lucca in 1743, the son of a double-bass player. As a cellist he undertook tours with the violinist Manfredi, a pupil of Nardini, and the two caused a sensation in Paris, whence they proceeded to Spain, attracting, after some initial difficulties, the patronage of Don Luis, the King’s brother. The Boccherini family had distinction in other spheres, both as poets and dancers, and was involved at various times in the theatre in Vienna, a city that Boccherini himself visited on more than one occasion early in his career.
On the death of Don Luis Boccherini’s Spanish pension was continued, but he was able to assume the title and presumably the obligations of composer to Friedrich Wilhelm II, who in 1787 succeeded his uncle Frederick the Great as King of Prussia. There is no evidence that Boccherini ever lived or worked in Berlin, where the cello-playing king had gathered other players and composers for the instrument, and whatever employment there was came to an end with the King’s death in 1797.
Boccherini died in Madrid in 1805, and contemporary accounts suggest that he was living in some squalor, if not indigence. He had not been without patrons, however, including the French ambassador to Madrid, Lucien Bonaparte.
Compositions by Boccherini for the cello include a number of quintets, with formidable parts for the first of the two cellos employed, as well as a number of other examples of chamber music. Recent scholars list eleven concertos for the cello, of which the present work is the ninth. The concerto is in the usual three movements and is possibly better known in a version arranged by Gruetzmacher in 1895 from various sources. Whether in that version or in its authentic form it makes considerable demands on the soloist.
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