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James H. North
Fanfare, January 2009

This looks like an interesting collection of Haydn concertos, running the gamut from the early, little-known double Concerto to the late, great Trumpet Concerto…the recorded sound excellent.

Richard Wigmore
Gramophone, November 2008

The Naxos disc offers an attractive Haydn medley. Both the Harpsichord Concerto and the Double Concerto, both from the 1750s, were conceived for organ (without pedals). Their first movements tend to meander amiably but inconsequentially, and their aria-like slow movements have a fragile rococo charm. Most fetching are the gamesome finales. Playing on a silvery-toned single-manual harpsichord, Harald Hoeren gives a deft and (in the finale) spirited performance. In the Double Concerto he switches to fortepiano and relishes his bouts of elegant badinage with violinist Ariadne Daskalakis.

Dmitri Babanov is a secure, smooth-toned soloist in the lively Horn Concerto of 1762, coping with Haydn’s frequent descents into the underworld and the comically spluttering repeated notes in the finale. Accompaniments, here and elsewhere, are reliable rather than inspiring, and the harpsichord continuo tends to pound too enthusiastically for my taste. The late Trumpet Concerto—by far the finest work on the disc—is dispatched in enjoyably bright, forthright style by Jürgen Schuster, though he rather jabs at the main theme from the finale.

Bob Briggs
MusicWeb International, October 2008

The Horn Concerto which opens the disk is full of good things, the writing for horn is certainly virtuosic—the range which Haydn demands of his performer is phenomenal—and here Babanov is quite happy whether he plays in the highest or lowest registers. Haydn goes to both extremes and exploits the full range of the instrument. The work also includes two quite taxing cadenzas. It is thought that the work was written for Joseph Leutgeb, the recipient of Mozart’s four Horn Concertos—he must have been some player! And what a lucky man to have five such magnificent works created for him!

The Harpsichord Concerto is full of great jokes. I especially love the jumping frog impression which the keyboard undertakes at 1:37 in the first movement. There’s lots of interplay between soloist and orchestra, more than in the wind concertos, but this is probably because Haydn knew that his soloist wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the accompaniment as easily as in the other works. The slow movement contains many little jokes with grace notes cheekily sticking their noses into the serious business of tunefulness. The finale is simply a fast romp.

The Double Concerto is thought to have started life as a work for organ. It is considered to have been performed for the solemn profession of Therese Keller, Haydn’ future sister–in–law, as a nun in 1756—the proof being that the range used by the fortepiano is restricted to the range of the contemporary Viennese organ. Certainly, this is a more serious work, more stately, than the others contained herein. The two soloists never engage in overt display and more often than not they connect in harmonious duet. Rather lovely it is, too. The finale is fast and joyful, but there’s still a serious undertone to the music.

Thanks to the solo trumpet repertoire being quite small, until contemporary composers started writing for it, Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto has become very well known. It’s a true virtuoso work with a gorgeous slow movement and a racy finale.

The performances here are first class, with lots of life and a real period feel. There’s nothing prissy or restrained about them—they’re really very alive. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, August 2008

This delightful disc offers a stroll in the garden of Papa Haydn’s creations, with the smiling author at his genial best. Yet it is not what one might expect. The Horn concerto is one of two in the key of D, an extremely demanding work that soloist Dmitri Babanov sails through impeccably (the other concerto is spurious). The harpsichord concerto, also in D, is not “the” familiar one, but rather one of over a dozen works for keyboard and strings written over the long span at Esterhaza—a good, substantial vehicle for soloist Harald Hoeren’s mastery. The double concerto for violin, keyboard and strings features excellent violinist Ariadne Daskalakis (the blurb refers to this work as Haydn’s only double concerto, but surely the 1765 Sinfonia Concertante also belongs in this category). The CD ends with the great evergreen Trumpet Concerto in Eb, wherein soloist Juergen Schuster does himself proud. Mueller-Bruehl’s solid direction of the Cologne Chamber Orchestra is a model of reliability and good taste.

James Manheim, August 2008

This disc by the veteran Cologne Chamber Orchestra and its conductor Helmut Müller-Brühl offers a mixed bag of concertos by Joseph Haydn, a genre that was never the composer’s strong point. This ensemble was doing unknown Classical-period chamber works well before most of the others on the scene, and their playing is precise if a bit more toward the smooth side than is fashionable these days…Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, Hob. 7e/1, one of the most familiar trumpet works in the catalog…is played quite competently by Jürgen Schuster on a modern trumpet…there is nothing in the least unpleasant about the hour of music offered here, which might serve a Haydn enthusiast reasonably well for a long commute home.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2008

Having completed their cycle of Haydn’s symphonies, Naxos now turns its attention to his quite short catalogue of concertos. Of the half dozen wind concertos originally attributed to him, only the Horn Concerto in D major and the famous Trumpet Concerto in E flat major can with any certainty have come from him. Maybe it was Joseph Leutgeb, for whom Mozart wrote his concertos, who would have been the intended horn player, the score often calling for an accomplished player high on the instrument. For the basic instruments of the time it would have required much expertise, but, by contrast, Haydn had a keyed trumpet at his disposal which would have provided the possibility of writing challenging virtuosity. There is uncertainty as the origins of the Harpsichord Concerto in D major, the music probably starting out as an concerto for organ and strings and written when Haydn was working as a church organist in Vienna. There is not much to tax the harpsichordist, Harald Hoeren, the orchestra often carrying the main thrust of the composition. Haydn’s only known Double Concerto was for fortepiano, violin and strings, though the original was probably for organ (even the composer was confused in later life as to its origin). A quite short work in the conventional three movements, two fast ones surrounding the Largo, the violin often little more than an obbligato role. The soloists are uniformly good, though I wish the Horn Concerto had been played on the natural horn of the day to accentuate its rustic quality. Here the Russian, Dmitri Babanov, produces a nicely rounded tone, his valved instrument making light of Haydn’s demands. Jurgen Schuster’s German trumpet is not as bright as we hear elsewhere, singing rather than offering thrills. The Cologne Chamber Orchestra and their conductor, Helmut Muller-Bruhl, are, as usual, on home ground in this music.

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