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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Violin Concerto No. 1 in C Major Hob.V IIa: 1 (ca. 1765) [20:49]
Violin Concerto No. 3 in A Major Hob.V IIa: 3 (ca. 1770) [27:20]
Violin Concerto No. 4 in G Hob.V IIa: 4 (1769) [19:51]
Lisa Jacobs (violin)
The String Soloists
rec. 2017, Cunerakerk, Rhenen, The Netherlands
COBRA 0061 [68:02]

Young Dutch violinist Lisa Jacobs takes a very appealing approach to Haydn’s under-appreciated violin concertos. Audiences know that Haydn paid concertos less attention than symphonies or string quartets, but when we hear one, we may want it to sound like his late, high-classical trumpet concerto, or the D major cello concerto. But these violin concertos are from an early period in Haydn’s career, and Jacobs presents them with an ear to their baroque connections. This means embracing their long melodic lines, and recognizing that the music is more discursive than the more concise compositions of middle and late Haydn. Jacobs recognizes that the violin concertos are episodic, and that it is not a bad thing to explore this aspect.

In the earliest C major concerto, Jacobs’s opening fanfare rings confidently. Her cadenza is both graceful and showy. The concluding presto is full of gentle tension. The A major “Melk” concerto opens with a measured pace, but is not slow. In Jacobs’s hands, we are reminded of C.P.E. Bach more than Beethoven. The G major concerto is perhaps the least interesting of the set, until the dazzling rondo finale, which here makes a great conclusion to the disc.

Jacobs plays with a big sound (in contrast to Isabel Faust’s recent Mozart concertos), but is h.i.p. friendly. Modern performance with a nod to period practice is a formula that will annoy some purists, but is a pleasing combination for many listeners. In contrast, ChristianTetzlaff plays the three concertos as if they were products of Haydn’s later classicism. They are leaner and swifter, with a bigger orchestra (the Northern Sinfonia), led by a conductor (Heinrich Schiff). Jacobs’s more intimate approach is more like chamber music.

Jacobs and the String Soloists have previously recorded concerti by Locatelli (review). As with that Cobra recording, this new Haydn set is stylish, well-recorded, and rather addictive.

Richard Kraus

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