LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Symphony No. 49 (La passione); Symphony No. 80; Violin Concerto No. 1 in C, Hob.VIIa:1
PERFORMER: Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/ Gottfried von der Goltz (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: HMX 2962029
Here we have an amiable violin concerto sandwiched between two fierce symphonies. The Violin Concerto No. 1 in C dates from the early 1760s when Haydn was recently appointed Vice Kapellmeister to Prince Esterhazy, but it was only rediscovered and published in 1909.
The first movement still retains the strutting rhythms and ritornello structure of the old Baroque style, but the slow movement spins a long serenade-like melody over pizzicato strings, and the inventive triple-time finale already shows Haydn’s love of tricky, asymmetrical phrasing. Directing from the solo violin, Gottfried von der Goltz combines the crispness and resonance of the best period practice with a genuine sweetness of tone.
Of the two symphonies, only No. 49 in F minor, La passione, is fierce all through: fiercely severe in its long opening Adagio and, with the exception of the brighter trio, in its minuet; fiercely driven in its jagged sonata Allegro and headlong Finale.
Here the power of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra horns and grainy attack of the strings come into their own in a focused recorded acoustic – though some may feel the harpsichord continuo is a little too prominent. Symphony No. 80 in D minor, here without continuo, is only fierce at the start; thereafter minor keys play hide and seek with often sprightly, major key material. The Finale is taken faster by other performers, but the slow movement is tenderly realised. Bayan Northcott