Haydn: Keyboard Concerto in D, Hob. XVIII:11; Keyboard Concerto in C, Hob. XVIII:1; Keyboard Concerto in D, Hob. XVIII:2

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Keyboard Concerto in D, Hob. XVIII:11; Keyboard Concerto in C, Hob. XVIII:1; Keyboard Concerto in D, Hob. XVIII:2
PERFORMER: Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra/Ton Koopman (harpsichord, organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-17070-2
Haydn’s concertos are not among his best music, with the possible exception of the famous Trumpet Concerto and the D major Harpsichord Concerto, Hob. XVIII:11, recorded here. The writer of the booklet note describes the first movement of the C major Organ Concerto as short-breathed, repetitive and meandering – a judgement with which I was forced to agree. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it, thanks to the unforced, stylish grace of the performers, and the soft-grained beauty of the orchestral sound, which often reminded me of Koopman’s recent marvellous Bach cantata recordings. The sound owes much to the beautiful acoustic of the Waalse Kerk in Amsterdam (why do so few recordings allow us to enjoy a specific acoustic these days?). When these virtues are harnessed to the finer music of the Harpsichord Concerto in D, the results are altogether superb. I did, however, wonder whether the option of playing the solo part on the fortepiano – one suggested by the composer – might not have suited the music better. There were one or two moments when an expressively moulded phrase was ‘echoed’ on the dynamically inflexible harpsichord, with a comically wooden effect that not even Koopman’s artistry could obviate. That small caveat aside, I found these engaging and wonderfully musical performances. Ivan Hewett

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