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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Adagio in F major from Violin Concerto in C Hob. VIIa (transcr. Gomziakov) (3:56)
Cello Concerto No. 2 in D major Hob. VIIb:2 (1783) (26:40)
Adagio Cantabile in G major from Symphony No. 13 in D Hob. I.13 (1763) (5:03)
Cello Concerto No. 1 in C major Hob. VIIb:1 (1760s) (23:51)
Pavel Gomziakov, cello
Erik Heide, concert master
Orquestra Gulbenkian
rec. 16-18 September 2015 Grande Auditório, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
ONYX CLASSICS 4151 [59:55]

Russian Cellist Pavel Gomziakov has chosen the Haydn concerti to showcase a previously unrecorded instrument. Stradivari’s 1725 “Chevillard, King of Portugal” cello, once owned and played by Portugal’s King Dom Luis I, now sits in Lisbon’s National Museum of Music. Gomziakov successfully petitioned the Portuguese cultural authorities to let him use this late instrument by Stradivari for his Haydn project. Haydn’s long lines and transparent orchestration help demonstrate this instrument’s powerful and radiant voice.

The performances are rather old-fashioned, and fun to hear. In the early C major concerto, Gomziakov growls and sings, with lots of virtuoso show. This is perhaps not quite as exciting as the old Rostropovich/Britten recording, made shortly after the rediscovery of Haydn’s early concerto. But it is very good, and much better recorded.

Gomziakov’s treatment of the later D major concerto is also grand in scale. Gomziakov’s first-movement cadenza is some four and a half minutes long (in a sixteen-minute Allegro moderato), posing some risk of overpowering the concerto. Coming at track 2 on the disc, the cadenza reminds listeners who have not yet been paying attention that this is not a historically informed performance. Purists may object, but many will likely enjoy Gomziakov’s simultaneous homage to Haydn and Stradivari through his cadenza. In his review of this recording, David Barker points to the tension between the soloist’s romantic conception and the leaner approach of the Gulbenkian Orchestra. This is an odd feature of the current recording, but not necessarily a disqualifying one.

Two shorter Haydn pieces complete the disc. One is Gomziakov’s transcription of the slow movement from Haydn’s C major violin concerto, which receives a performance both elegant and impassioned.

The other is the Adagio Cantabile from Symphony 13. This eloquently pensive cello solo is an underperformed masterpiece, but then so is the whole symphony, which features a quartet of horns in its outer movements. Why not record the complete symphony, and give us more opportunity to enjoy the clean and crisp playing of the Gulbenkian Orchestra?

Richard Kraus

Previous review: David Barker



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