Rachel Podger – Mozart & Haydn Concertos

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COMPOSERS: Haydn,Mozart
LABELS: Channel Classics
WORKS: Haydn: Violin Concertos: No. 1 in C, Hob VIIa:1; No. 4 in G, Hob VIIIa:4 ; Mozart: Sinfonia Concertante KV364
PERFORMER: Rachel Podger (violin), Pavlo Beznosiuk (viola); Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
CATALOGUE NO: CCS SA 29309

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In his Pocket Guide to Haydn Richard Wigmore faint-praises the three surviving violin concertos as ‘slender pieces of modest charm’. They are early, certainly, still semi-Baroque in structure and barely hint at the inimitable Haydn to come.

Yet if any performer could convince us of their virtues, it is Rachel Podger, whose silvery-toned, subtly nuanced 1739 Pesarinius violin and intent direction of the strings of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment find a genuine eloquence in the Adagio of the otherwise unremarkable G major Concerto.

The C major was recently tastefully recorded by Gottfried von der Goltz and The Freiburg Baroque Orchestra on Harmonia Mundi. Podger and the OAE are that little bit more vital in its outer movements, more sweetly intense in its Adagio.

Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante is, of course, a masterpiece unique even in his output for the almost operatic interplay between its solo violin and viola protagonists, and the richness and variety of texture he draws from an orchestra comprising just strings oboes and horns.

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Its sound world is enhanced here by the use of solo Strads borrowed from the Royal Academy of Music’s collection: Podger’s almost ‘speaking’ line contrasts with the more ‘masculine’ tones of Pavlo Beznosiuk. Others have wrung even more pathos from the somber Andante, but this scarcely alloys the warmth and life of the reading. Bayan Northcott