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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Violin Concerto in A major (Hob. VIIa:3)
Moderato; Adagio; Allegro
Violin Concerto in G major (Hob. VIIa:4)
Allegro moderato; Adagio; Allegro
Violin Concerto in C major (Hob. VIIa:1)
Allegro moderato; Adagio; Presto
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Rondo K. 373 in C major
Allegretto grazioso
Christian Teztlaff (violin)
Northern Sinfonia/Heinrich Schiff
Recorded in All Saints, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, December 1990 and February 1991.
VIRGIN CLASSICS 7243 5 62103 2 5
[67. 30]


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Reluctant though I am to take issue with the eminent Haydn scholar, H Robbins Landon, who points out that the Violin Concerto in C major (the last of the three on this disc) is well known, it’s hard to concur with his assertion that it is ‘now one of Haydn’s most popular works’. For me the one in G major had a far more familiar ring, but in any case they cannot be better known than the ‘London’ symphonies or ‘Creation’?. It’s true that Haydn, unlike Mozart, is not renowned for his concertos and one wonders why given the lovely music here, but no doubt they were not asked of him in his safe Court post chez Esterhazy, whereas his younger colleague tended to write them to commission or to perform himself to propagate his own name for the purposes of self-publicity.

Haydn began writing the C major concerto for Luigi Tomasini in 1765, so the composer was in his early thirties. In its outer, quicker movements it reflects the violinist’s brilliant technique, while the lyrical Adagio recalls his Italianate sound. It took until the beginning of the twentieth century before these concertos were re-discovered in the catalogues of the music publishers Breitkopf and Härtel, and they all recall the Baroque era, in particular the music and style of Vivaldi. The other two also date from the 1760s but their revivals have waited as long as 200 years (1950 in the case of the A major concerto) before being revived. Somehow Mozart’s brief Rondo (1781), despite its status here as a filler, contains more grandeur, nobility and beauty than all three of Haydn’s concertos. There is no contest.

This is a fine account by all concerned after a wiry A-string start from the Northern Sinfonia in the chord of the opening concerto. Tetzlaff plays them with stylish simplicity, drawing the sense of melodic line and classical shape of each work with loving care, and so, unattributed cadenzas apart, style is the strength of the interpretations here. Though unlikely to make it to the concert platform, one of these concertos (though the G major and C major in my order of preference) might make a useful contribution to the programme content of under-length choral concerts of the works of Mozart or Haydn.

Christopher Fifield

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