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Glyn Pursglove
MusicWeb International, July 2011

Most of the concertos on this disc were written during the early years of Haydn’s employment at Esterházy Palace. They were written to be played by some of the ‘stars’ of that establishment’s orchestra. The violin concertos in A and G were pretty certainly written in the early 1760s, to be performed by Luigi Tomasini (1741–1808), the Pesaro-born violinist and composer who was then concertmaster of the Esterházy orchestra. The cello concerto in C seems to have been written for Joseph Weigl (1740–1820), principal cellist of the orchestra and a particular friend of Haydn’s. The concerto in F, for violin and harpsichord (or positiv organ) probably belongs to the middle of the 1750s and thus predates Haydn’s years at Esterházy; so too, probably, does the violin concerto in C. The cello concerto in D is a much later work, composed in 1783 for Anton Kraft and long imagined to be by the cellist himself, until Haydn’s autograph manuscript was discovered at the beginning of the 1950s. For the most part, however, the music to be heard on this disc belongs to Haydn’s thirties.

While they may not be the greatest of Haydn, these concertos have plenty to recommend them. The violin concertos tend to go in for rather loose but engaging first movements and colourful finales. The central adagios (especially that of No.1) contain a number of beautiful passages. Salvatore Accardo, as both soloist and director of the English Chamber Orchestra, delineates pretty well the essential vivacity and lightness of these concertos; his playing in the finale of No.1 makes light of the technical demands and communicates the music’s essential exhilaration. These may not be ‘authentic’ performances but they respond to the music’s spirit and are thoroughly enjoyable. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the performances of the two cello concertos. The orchestral playing—which presumably reflects the direction of Edo de Waart—is somewhat sluggish and the soloist, Christine Walevska never sounds fully at home; she fails to find a consistently convincing Haydn manner and her work is marred by an inappropriately overdone vibrato. The reading of the most mature Haydn work on these discs—the cello concerto in D—is particularly disappointing, failing to capture much of either the lyricism or wit of the piece.

Donald R Vroon
American Record Guide, January 2011

This is another Philips reissue on the Newton label. It is exactly the same as Philips 438797, a “duo” issued in 1993. The recordings are from 1972 and 1981 and began life on LPs, where I first heard them and grew to like them.

The cello concertos are warm and rich, with full cello tone. If you like the sheer sound of the instrument, you will be happy. There are other fine recordings, and a favorite cellist may give them more of the personality you are looking for; but I have never needed anything but Walevska. The two cello concertos are great works.

The three violin concertos (in C, A, and G) are more modest pieces—and a bit more primitive—earlier-sounding Haydn. Still, they are thoroughly likeable, and Accardo is a very likeable violinist.

None of this even faintly resembles “period instruments”, and we are sincerely thankful for that. There is a discreet harpsichord, but the one piece where it is pretty strong is—no surprise—the sixth concerto here, the one for violin and harpsichord in F. (Haydn actually wrote it for violin and organ.) Bruno Canino does the honors. It’s not a piece I ever cared for, so I can hardly judge the performance.

The sound in everything was always utterly perfect, so there is certainly no need to replace previous incarnations with this one. But if you don’t know these recordings or these pieces, you will soon find out why some of us have had this in our collections for years.

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4:27:23 PM, 26 January 2015
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