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Franz Josef HAYDN (1732 – 1809)
Piano concerto in D major, Hob. XVIII:II [19:37]
Cello concerto no. 1 in C major, Hob.VIIB:I [26:51]
Violin concerto in G major, Hob VIIA:4 [18:56]
Maurizio Baglini (piano)
Silvia Chiesa (cello)
Camerata Ducale/Guido Rimonda (violin)
rec. live, 27 August 2015, Poggi del Sasso Amiata Piano Festival,
DECCA 4815395 [65:24]

The CD cover shows the recent, magnificent, intimate concert hall of the Amiata Piano Festival where these three concertos were recorded live in August 2015. It’s empty in the photo, so a little austere, but also strangely inviting. It doesn’t show you Poggi del Sasso’s spectacular countryside in the Maremma, that little-known former marshland close to Grosseto, in which some of Italy’s finest wines and olives are produced.

The Amiata enterprise is exclusively sponsored by the Bertarelli winegrowers, and yes, you guessed, your concert ticket gives you a sampling of the wines, olives, cheeses and other local produce, in the interval. In Italy, such private (not public) funding has become rare indeed. An English comparison might be Glyndebourne, the country seat of the Christies which they transformed into a miniature opera-house. But while Glyndebourne is dedicated to lyric opera, the Amiata is dedicated to more intimate vocal and instrumental music-making, where the music makers also mingle with their audiences. Moreover, Tuscany’s summer weather is more clement than Glyndebourne’s, though, it should be said, because of the intimacy of the hall, tickets are even harder to come by.

What better programming for intimacy than Haydn?

Maurizio Baglini, founder and Artistic Director of the Festival, is the soloist in the piano concerto in D Hob. XV111:11. There is merry mischief in the opening vivace of Baglini’s beautifully measured, yet freedom-giving romp. He respects the many fine details of the musical architecture, which is combined with a subtle, almost contradictory gentleness of phrasing. A nymph who knows a thing or two is at work here. I can see and hear Haydn’s approving wink.

How typical of Haydn to ask for the second movement to be un poco adagio - somewhat slowly, which carries the gentle warning not to drag it. Nor do they. The conversation between the strings and wind here with Baglini’s Fazioli piano is beautifully poised, with the hall itself giving a slight hint of echo and bringing the music to special life.

The title Rondo all’ungarese –Allegro assai indicates “let-this-one-rip”, which is just what the players do, but with a matter-of-factness and no fuss, which suits Haydn above all other composers.

Silvia Chiesa is nearer to Tortelier, which is to say more intimate, than to the robustness of the late Jacqueline du Pré in Haydn’s C major cello concerto. In much of the first movement –moderato – the cellist is having a conversation with herself. Chiesa’s phrases answer one another with unabashed charm here. She uses an effective echo question and answer technique in the cadenza.

There is a touching simplicity in her adagio. This might be a little too romanticised for some tastes, but not for mine. I enjoy the effect she makes of seeming to pull the music out of the air.

Briskness is the watchword of the allegro molto finale, never hurried, but always with a forwards thrust. The rapport here between cellist and orchestra is another perfect musical matching.

Poised is the word which first comes to mind on hearing Guido Rimonda’s opening allegro moderato of Haydn’s violin concerto in G. Pleasure derives not only from the player’s prowess, which is relaxed and secure, but from the fact he is playing a 1721 Leclair –Le Noir Antonio Stradivari violin. And what a happy marriage this is of player and instrument: the sound is always clean and rich in lower passages, and singing in higher tones.

Rimonda is at some pains not to sentimentalise the adagio, and rightly so with the perfect relationship he has with his magnificent instrument. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is like no other: violin and violinist sound as one.

The allegro finale is a conversation between soloist and orchestra, delivered with the same assurance and polish as the the first movement.

Guido Rimonda is also the conductor of his own orchestra, the Camerata Ducale, in all three concertos. He holds the whole concert together in the most musical, unobtrusive way. I look forward to hearing much more of this maestro and his chamber orchestra.

Jack Buckley



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