Composed in 1792 for the violinist-impresario Johann Peter Salomon, three of his lead-players and orchestra, Haydn's genial and decorative Sinfonia Concertante proved one of the greatest hits of his first London residency. As well it might if it received anything like the spirited and affectionate performance heard here from the lithe violin of Ilya Gringolts, the sometimes-stratospheric cello playing of Nicolas Altstaedt, the bucolic oboe of Alfredo Bernardini and the mischievous bassoon of Peter Whelan, with the resplendent ensemble Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen.
Period instruments may be deployed and vibrato eschewed but Haydn's endlessly ingenious permutations of the solo parts and orchestral tuttis come over with unalloyed charm and ebullience.
Bernardini, Whelan and Cohen bring comparable qualities to the two relatively early Moazart Concertos, finding an expressiveness and radiance even in the more formulaic patches. Part of that radiance doubtless stems from the decision to record in a spacious church acoustic—St Jude's Hampstead Garden Suburb—rather than a drier concert hall. However, this makes for a slightly questionable balance in the Sinfonia Concertante, with the soloists sounding almost on top of the microphone for clarity and the orchestra seemingly set back in a more reverberant ambience—though in the less elaborately textured Mozart Concertos this is less noticeable. A harpsichord continuo is audible in the Bassoon Concerto, though no player is specified in the booklet.