Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Violin Concerto in C, H.VIIa, No.1 [21:16]
Violin Concerto in A, H.VIIa.No.3 [26:33]
Violin Concerto in G, H.VIIa.No.4 [20:14]
Concerto in F, for Violin and Harpsichord, H.XVIII.No.6 [18:16]
Cello Concerto No.1 in C, H.VIIb [28:05]
Cello Concerto No.2 in D, H.VIIb [25:17]
Salvatore Accardo (violin) Bruno Canino (harpsichord) Christine Walevska (cello)
English Chamber Orchestra/Salvatore Accardo, Edo de Waart (cello)
rec. January 1972, London (cello) and May 1980, London AAD
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802017 [68:49 + 73:29]

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.

Glyn Pursglove

Accardo’s violin concertos are worth having; Walevska’s cello concertos are somewhat ponderous.