Haydn concertos for violin, horn and keyboard performed by Il Pomo d’Oro

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COMPOSERS: Joseph Haydn
LABELS: Erato
ALBUM TITLE: Haydn
WORKS: Violin Concerto in G; Horn Concerto in D; Keyboard Concerto in G; Symphony in G minor (La poule); Fantasia in C; Keyboard Concerto in D ; Concerto for violin & harpsichord in F
PERFORMER: Riccardo Minasi (violin/conductor), Maxim Emelyanychev (harpsichord/conductor), Johannes Hinterholzer (horn); Il Pomo d’Oro
CATALOGUE NO: Erato 2564605204

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‘Less original and less popular than his symphonies’: this is the Grove Dictionary’s assessment of Haydn’s keyboard concertos – of which he wrote 11 – but it can also serve for the way received opinion generally views his entire concertante output. If the aim of Il Pomo d’Oro’s two-disc set was to contradict such dismissal, it has been achieved with exhilarating success.

It’s a concerto pot-pourri, so that even for those who already own Haydn discs devoted to a single category (such as Giuliano Carmignola’s superb DG collection of the three authentic violin concertos), the pleasures of this set add up slightly differently. They include those of comparison: what the whole bears out – even the Horn Concerto in D, compositionally the least ambitious work on offer – is that the distinctive Haydn combination of warmly human ‘speaking voice’ and technical adventurousness tends to emerge most distinctively in the middle-movement Adagios. But in performances of commitment and flair such as these, nothing in any of these five concertos can be discounted as mechanical routine, even alongside the 83rd Symphony, La poule, given a splendidly colourful reading at the start of disc two.

The selection has also been devised, it seems, to feature and combine the talents of the Italian period-instrument band’s former and current musical directors – respectively the violinist Riccardo Minasi, leading the first CD, and the harpsichordist Maxim Emelyanychev, leading the second. The dazzlingly fresh, vital way the two join forces in the concluding account of Haydn’s single surviving Double Concerto seems to sum up what the venture is all about.

Max Loppert

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