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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67925
Recording details: October 2012
Palais Montcalm, Québec, Canada
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon & Robert-Eric Gaskell
Release date: April 2013
Total duration: 20 minutes 3 seconds

'Hamelin challenges the benchmark recordings for supremacy … the cadenzas are among the special joys of this new recording … almost worth the price of the disc' (Gramophone)

'Pianist Marc-André Hamelin and Les Violons du Roy play the gypsy rondo of the D major Concerto with irresistible verve … the finale of the G major Concerto is a dazzling piece too … Hamelin's showmanship and the eloquence of his slow movements is an added bonus' (BBC Music Magazine)

'I am bowled over … it is as though we are getting the best possible compromise between the shimmering timbre of the harpsichord and the rather grander majestic sweep of the modern piano, all bound together eruditely by Hamelin … the players of Les Violons du Roy show supreme tightness and fizz in their dispatch of the rapid-bowed figures and yet are as soft as a feather duster when placing chords in the slower movements … Olympian power, authority, consistency and finesse' (International Record Review)

'Hamelin's songful legato in the F major's largo cantabile and bravura in the presto finales make the strongest possible cases for these works, and I don't know a more exhilarating account of the D major' (The Sunday Times)

'Hamelin's masterly control to every little note shows itself to full advantage. This disc offers serious competition … Les Violons du Roy are as lively and as rhythmically solid as Hamelin' (Pianist)

Piano Concerto in D major, Hob XVIII:11
composer
published in 1784 by Joseph Schmitt of Amsterdam; 1st and 2nd movement cadenzas by Wanda Landowska (1879-1959)

Vivace  [7'50]
Un poco adagio  [8'01]

Other recordings available for download
Edwin Fischer (piano), Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Easily the most popular of Haydn’s keyboard concertos, in his lifetime and ever since, is the Concerto in D major, Hob XVIII:11, written ‘for the harpsichord or fortepiano’ sometime between 1779 and 1783, and thus more or less contemporary with symphonies Nos 73–78 and the Op 33 string quartets. By now Haydn was a European celebrity, fêted from St Petersburg to Cadiz, with publishers falling over each other to issue his latest instrumental works. He optimistically offered the concerto as ‘new’ to the London publisher William Forster in 1787 without mentioning that it had already appeared in several editions both on the Continent and in England. Aware of the competition, Forster turned the concerto down. While its exact date is unknown, a contemporary memoir suggests that it might have been played at a private Viennese concert on 20 February 1780 by Fräulein Anna von Hartenstein, a pupil of the celebrated Bohemian composer Leopold Kozeluch.

The D major Concerto is both more melodically attractive and more tautly organized than the two earlier works. Like Mozart in his Viennese concertos, Haydn here infuses the concerto’s traditional ritornello design, based on the alternation of solo and tutti, with the drama and dynamism of sonata form. Except in the finale, Haydn does not work with Mozart’s profusion of themes. His scale, as usual, is more compact. But the opening Vivace has plenty of melodic contrast to offset the crisp, clear-cut main theme which galvanizes the whole movement. The ‘tapping’ figure of three crotchets in bar two proves especially fertile, above all in the rapidly modulating development, where it is bandied about between various string groups against the soloist’s broken semiquaver figuration.

While the first movement works equally well on harpsichord or piano, the musing, ornate Un poco adagio, in A major, cries out for the dynamic shadings possible only on a touch-sensitive instrument. In this delicately orchestrated movement (sustained oboes and horns add a soft gloss to the opening tutti), Haydn creates poetry from the simplest material. The central episode, slipping immediately from E major to E minor, expands a repeated triplet figure first heard near the beginning into an exquisite dialogue between keyboard and strings.

It was surely the finale that sealed the concerto’s popularity in Haydn’s lifetime, as the composer doubtless calculated it would. Haydn had already hinted at the Tokay-flavoured Hungarian gypsy style in the G major Keyboard Concerto, and mined it more extensively in pieces like the finale of Symphony No 47 in G major and the minuet and finale of the D major String Quartet Op 20 No 4. But this Rondo all’ungarese outdoes all comers in its mingled flamboyant exoticism and zany humour. The main tune, which initially sounds like a ‘normal’ Haydn finale theme, has been identified as a dance from Bosnia or Croatia. From the moment the tune is repeated in the ‘wrong’ key of E minor, with stinging grace notes, the music grows progressively more delirious. The first episode whirls fragments of the main theme through a frenetic sequence of modulations, audacious even by Haydn’s standards. A contrasting theme sounds like a paprika-infused ‘Three Blind Mice’, made faintly ominous with trills, while a later episode seems to transplant an impassioned operatic aria to the wildness of the Hungarian puszta.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2013


Other albums featuring this work
'Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos' (APR7303)
Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos
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