Hyperion Records

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

'Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos' (APR7303)
Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos
MP3 £13.99FLAC £13.99ALAC £13.99 APR7303  Download only  
'Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 11' (CDA67925)
Haydn: Piano Concertos Nos 3, 4 & 11
MP3 £6.99FLAC £6.99ALAC £6.99Buy by post £10.50 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £10.50ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £10.50 CDA67925  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Movement 1: Vivace
Movement 2: Un poco adagio
Movement 3: Rondo all'ungarese: Allegro assai

Piano Concerto in D major, Hob XVIII:11
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

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for APR7303 disc 3 track 9
Recording date
circa 22 October 1942
Recording venue
Vienna, Austria
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Edwin Fischer – Mozart Piano Concertos (APR7303)
    Disc 3 Track 9
    Release date: March 2010
    Download only
   English   Français   Deutsch