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Haydn • Stravinsky: Violin Concertos etc

Vondel Strings/Rosanne Philippens (violin) (Channel Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Haydn • Stravinsky
Haydn: Violin Concertos Nos 1 & 4; Stravinsky: Divertimento from The Fairy’s Kiss (arr. D Ledger)
Vondel Strings/Rosanne Philippens (violin)
Channel Classics CCS43921   57:45 mins


Hoboken’s catalogue credits Haydn with four violin concertos, all of them dating from the 1760s when he was in his early 30s – though the score of No. 2 is lost and No. 4 in G major, Hob. VIIa:4, may just possibly be by someone else. Yet it certainly sounds like a dry run for the more virtuosic No. 1 in C major. Hob. VIIa:1 composed for Haydn’s lead violinist at Eszterháza, Luigi Tomasini. Both works mix lingering formalities of the late Baroque with more dynamic premonitions of Viennese Classicism. But while solo writing in the G major Concerto stays closely interwoven with the orchestra, rarely taking flight, the C major Concerto is more brilliantly written, with a lovely nocturnal cantilena in the slow movement and a witty play of irregular phrase-lengths in the finale.

Interpolating Stravinsky between the two concertos seems apt, given his comparable penchant for wit and asymmetry. The music comes from his 1928 ballet The Fairy’s Kiss – that near miraculous fusion of Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. In 1934 he extracted an orchestral suite entitled Divertimento, which he then transcribed for violin and piano. Now David Ledger has skilfully transcribed the piano accompaniment for the 14 players of the only-recently-formed Vondel Strings, who deliver its ingenuities with energy and crispness, while the rising young Dutch violinist/director Rosanne Philppens draws an exquisitely chill sweetness of expression from her 1727 ‘Barrere’ Strad. The Haydn performances are equally stylish, but additionally imbued with a warm affection for the music that is rather special.


Bayan Northcott