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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Keyboard Concertos
Concerto for Keyboard and Strings in G major Hob.XVIII:4 (date unknown) [24:56]
Concerto for Keyboard, Violin and Strings in F major Hob.XVIII:6 (c.1756) [19:37]
Concerto for Keyboard and Orchestra in D major Hob.XVIII:11 (1784) [19.36]
Andreas Staier (pianoforte)
Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
Teldex Studio Berlin March 2004. Stereo. DDD
HARMONIA MUNDI HMC901854 [64:20]

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First let me comment on the recording which, as well as clarity, has great depth of bass implying that the auditorium was appropriately small. It turns out to have been the Teldex Studio in Berlin; a glance at their website shows it to be a small assembly-hall sized wood-lined auditorium of which the company should clearly be proud. The balance between piano and orchestra is very subtly handled by the engineers (as well as the musicians), for example in the Adagio of the G major H18/4 the piano is just heard against the opening tutti and again we have that amazingly deep bass. The recording is in fact clear enough to hear, in a positive sense, Staierís pedalling effects throughout.

The notes go a long way to lower expectations of musical quality, talking of the minor role of the piano concerto in Haydnís output. As a listener I did not find this to be the case. For example the Rondo finale of the G major is enormous fun to hear and seems to have provoked orchestra and pianist into the liveliest music-making. In Hob.18/6 for piano and violin the finale is an absolute ball and full of Haydnís wit with a lovely interplay of instruments. I should not omit to mention the brilliant violin solo of Gottfried von der Goltz. Hob.18/11 for piano and full orchestra is the famous concerto, if any of them can be so described. It is a whole new ball game. Music on an almost Beethovenian scale. The first movement Vivace strays off into quite remote tonal territory, a tiny suggestion perhaps of what Beethoven put into his first piano concerto (the Piano concerto No.2 in B flat major Opus 19). The second movement Un poco adagio is so very delicate and again presages Beethoven, but oddly not Mozart. The justifiably well known Rondo allíUngarese is played with superb virtuosity by the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra with string playing of extraordinary unanimity, with again that wonderful bass. Andreas Staier makes much of the gypsy element and conjures a huge range of colours out of his Walter copy pianoforte.

There is a cover picture of someone building a house of cards. The significance escapes me, but itís a nice picture.

A terrific CD.

Dave Billinge



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