Haydn, Monn

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Cello Concerto, Hob. VIIb:1; Cello Concerto, Hob. VIIb: 2; Cello Concerto in G minor
PERFORMER: Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Petra Müllejans
Haydn’s two cello concertos may be of more interest to cellists than Haydn-lovers. The Second in D major was designed as a showpiece for the famous player Anton Kraft, and it’s likely he had a hand in the cello part. It was once thought that Kraft had actually written the whole thing, and it would be reassuring to think that at least the banal tune of its finale stemmed from him. That finale needs more help than the pedestrian conducting of Stefan Sanderling provides for Matt Haimovitz if it’s not to sound terminally dull. Jean-Guihen Queyras benefits from the much more alert playing of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra; and in their account of the D minor central episode, the piece suddenly springs to life. Haimovitz is a fine musician, but his live performances, recorded in a distinctly dry acoustic, can’t really compare with Queyras’s more stylish readings. The latter can confidently be recommended as a period-instrument choice, but Steven Isserlis and the COE under Norrington provide even stronger competition – particularly since they also offer Haydn’s fine Sinfonia concertante of 1792. Haimovitz rounds out his CD with every cellist’s dream: a concerto by Mozart – well, actually a transcription by the conductor George Szell, with its outer movements derived from the Oboe Concerto, K285d. The Andante, ostensibly taken from a violin concerto movement of 1785, doesn’t sound like Mozart at all, and it isn’t: only its first four bars are authentic. Queyras has the attractive G minor Concerto of Georg Matthias Monn – a piece once edited by Schoenberg. Misha Donat