Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809) Violin Concerto in C major, H. VIIa/1 [20:33]
Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, Hob.I:105 [22:46]
Members of The Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra: Ronald Leonhard (cello); Barbara Winters (oboe); David Breidenthal (bassoon)
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra/Pinchas Zukerman (violin)
rec. 1977, American Legion Hall, Hollywood, USA PENTATONE PTC5186224 SACD [43:24]
For me, Haydn is guaranteed to brighten up even the most
cheerless of days. Both these works radiate an affable disposition,
and certainly leave me feeling upbeat and elated.
The Violin Concerto in C major was composed in the 1760s for Luigi
Tomasini, a well-known violinist of the time, who became the concertmaster of
the Esterházy orchestra. It bears a personal dedication in
the composer’s handwriting ‘fatto per il Luigi’. The
concerto provided the violinist with an opportunity to show off his
skills, with double-stops, fast runs and daring arpeggios etched into
the score. Zukerman injects energy and joie de vivre, inspiring
his players to give a reading of spontaneity and freshness. His warm,
burnished tone suits this music and his instinctive phrasing, pristine
intonation and technical command carries the day. The rhythmic energy
of the finale sets the seal on an intoxicating account.
The Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major dates from Haydn’s first
visit to London in 1791-92. His remarkable success had sparked some
rivalry between himself and his former pupil Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831),
whose concertante symphonies had been extremely popular. Not one to
be outdone, Haydn threw his hat into the ring with this work for violin,
oboe, cello, bassoon and orchestra. It was an unmitigated success when
it was premiered in March 1792.
Everything bodes well from the start with ebullience, youthful vitality,
elegance and charm. It’s a delightful work, and the sun shines
throughout. The soloists are members of the orchestra, presumably the
principals of the relevant sections. They are excellent in every way,
allowing us to share in the joy of their music-making, which they deliver
with alacrity. The performance is superbly engineered with an ideal
balance struck between all concerned. The recording focuses well on
each individual soloist and the impression is of an amiable and good-humoured
This is the latest release in Pentatone’s ‘Re-mastered Classics’
series and, as far as I am aware, these DG recordings from 1977 are
making their first outing on CD. Pentatone’s aim is to cherry-pick
outstanding performances of artistic merit from the back catalogue.
The original multi-channel tapes couldn’t reach their full potential
at the time of recording, due to the limitations in the playback systems
of the day. Now, with the advances in technology, these are re-mastered
and issued as Super Audio CDs.
Many will welcome back these captivating accounts in top of the range
sound, and I thank Pentatone for their sterling efforts.