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Johann Michael HAYDN (1737 - 1806): Complete Wind Concertos

[I] "Complete Wind Concertos Vol. 1"
Linde Brunmayr-Tutz, transverse flutea; Ernst Schlader, clarinetb; Johannes Hinterholzer, hornc; Franz Landlinger, trumpetd; Norbert Salvenmoser, trombonee
Salzburger Hofmusik
Dir: Wolfgang Brunner
rec: Sept 3 - 9, 2012, Salzburg, Mozarteum
CPO - 777 781-2 (© 2013) (63'44")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

Concertino for horn and orchestra in D (MH 134)c; Concerto for transverse flute and orchestra in D (MH 105)a; Serenade in D (MH 68) (Concertino for clarinet in Ab; Concertino for trombone in D/d minore); Serenade in B flat (MH 104) (Concertino for trumpet in Dd)

[II] "Complete Wind Concertos Vol. 2"
Linde Brunmayr-Tutz, transverse flutea; Johannes Hinterholzer, hornc; Franz Landlinger, trumpetd; Norbert Salvenmoser, trombonee; Makiko Kurabayashi, bassoonf
Salzburger Hofmusik
Dir: Wolfgang Brunner
rec: Sept 3 - 9, 2012, Salzburg, Mozarteum
CPO - 777 538-2 (© 2014) (65'20")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

Concerto for horn and orchestra in D (MH 53)c; Concerto for transverse flute and orchestra in D (MH 81)a; Larghetto (Concertino) for trombone and orchestra in F (MH 61)e; Romance for horn and orchestra in A flat (MH 806)c; Serenade in C (MH 60) (Concertino for trumpet in C)d; Serenade in B flat (MH 104) (Concertino for bassoon in B flat)f; Serenata in D (MH 86) (Concertino for horn and trombone in D)ce

Johann Michael Haydn is not a composer whose name often appears in concert programmes or on the title page of discs. He is largely overshadowed by his brother Joseph. It is mostly his sacred music which is recorded, and a fair number of his masses and other religious works have made it to disc. That is understandable because of their quality; in his own time he was already especially admired for his sacred music. In recent years more attention has been given to his instrumental music, especially his symphonies.

Those constitute by far the largest part of his instrumental oeuvre. Other categories are pieces which were quite popular in the last decades of the 18th century: marches, minuets, notturnos and serenades. In New Grove the solo concertos are the last category mentioned in the work-list, and that is quite remarkable, considering that CPO released two discs with solo concertos. However, it is not quite what it seems. The corpus of concertos for solo instrument(s) and orchestra is rather small: three concertos for violin, two for transverse flute, one for horn, one for harpsichord and the double concerto for harpsichord and viola. The majority of the pieces recorded here are called concertino and comprise mostly two movements with a solo part for a wind instrument from Haydn's serenades.

The serenade was one of the most popular forms of instrumental music in the second half of the 18th century, especially in Austria and the southern part of Germany. It was performed at special occasions, such as the closing of the academic year at the university - in that case a serenade was called a Finalmusik - or a wedding. Often serenades has a considerable length; it seems likely that they were not performed at a stretch, but with intervals between some of the movements. The serenade had no clearly-defined structure; the number of movements was more or less arbitrary, although over the years a kind of standard pattern emerged. Some composers included one or two movements with solo parts. One of Leopold Mozart's better-known pieces is his Concerto for trumpet in D which was originally part of a serenade in the same key; it has also just two movements. Some of Michael Haydn's serenades also include such movements, and these are performed here independently.

This seems to be historically justified. There was a strong connection between the serenade and other forms of instrumental music. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, for instance, arranged his Serenade in D (KV 204) as a symphony with four movements. Moreover, the fact that individual movements with solo parts have survived out of their original context seems to prove that they were treated as a kind of solo concertos from very early on.

These two discs include three 'real' solo concertos, two for flute and one for horn. The flute concertos date from the same period: between 1765 and 1768, and were written in Salzburg. They are in the same key of D major and the orchestral scoring is also identical: strings and two horns. They are in three movements. The Concerto in D MH 81) ends with a menuet and trio; the flute only participates in the trio. Interesting in the Concerto in D (MH 105) is that the candenzas in all the movements have been written out. It is notable that they are rather short, and from this angle the improvised cadenzas in some of the other pieces recorded here seem a little too long.

The Concerto for horn in D (MH 53) is also in three movements and dates from 1760-62 when Michael Haydn was at the court of Großwardein (today Oradea, Romania). Here the number of players at his disposal was probably limited, and one may wonder whether there was a horn player with the skills needed for the solo part. It seems possible that it was performed by some travelling virtuoso passing by. Especially the last movement is demanding. The first disc includes another piece for horn and orchestra which causes some problems as far as its identity is concerned. It is impossible to say whether it was conceived as a solo concerto or was rather part of a larger work, such as a serenade. The three-movement texture seems to point in the direction of the former, but the sequence of the movements - larghetto, allegro non troppo, menuetto - suggests the latter. Again the horn part is technically demanding, with many intervals which are not easy to realise on a valveless horn. As far as the horn is concerned, the second disc ends with an interesting piece, the Romance in A flat, whose solo part is the horn part from Mozart's Concerto in E flat (KV 447). The larghetto from this concerto seems to have been conceived as an independent piece, and was only extended to a complete solo concerto at a later date. The solo part was written for Joseph Leutgeb. Michael Malkiewicz, in his liner-notes, suggests that Leutgeb may have wished to perform this piece during a visit to his hometown Salzburg, but had only the solo part in his baggage. Haydn then may have written the accompaniment himself, in this case only for strings. It is a very nice piece, played here with one instrument per part.

The probably most remarkable parts of these discs as far as the scoring of the solo parts is concerned are the two works with trombone. This instrument was quite popular in the renaissance and the early baroque period but had become almost completely obsolete after the mid-17th century. The exception was the imperial court in Vienna where a dynasty of virtuosic trombone players inspired composers to write for the instrument. It was often included in oratorios and other vocal pieces. In the late 18th century its main role was in sacred music. The Concertino in F is certainly written for a virtuoso, as the solo part includes a messa di voce and coloratura, and Malkiewicz compares it to an operatic aria for a castrato. The Serenata in D (MH 86) includes two movements with solo parts for trombone and horn which are particularly virtuosic in the first movement (adagio). The orchestra is quite large and includes oboes, horns and trumpets.

Two serenades include movements with a solo part for trumpet. The Serenade in B flat (MH 104), part of which also has come down as a symphony (MH 133), has survived in two versions. One includes the adagio ma non troppo for bassoon, recorded here on Vol. 2. In the other version this movement has been replaced by an adagio and an allegro for trumpet. Notable is the solo part especially in the adagio where an a''' is required, the highest note written down in the solo literature for trumpet of the time. The Serenade in C (MH 60) includes an adagio and an allegro molto for trumpet. The adagio is almost identical with the slow movement of the Concerto for violin in G (MH 52), and was probably arranged from that movement. This could also explain the high notes in this part.

Lastly the 'Concertino' for clarinet in A needs to be mentioned. Its two movements are taken from the Serenade in D (MH 68); it was written in Salzburg and as the court chapel had no clarinettists in its ranks before 1805 it was probably performed by a travelling virtuoso. The solo part suggests that the soloist "possessed an instrument that was very progressive for its time", Malkiewicz states.

There can be little doubt that these two discs are extremely important. I had never heard the solo concertos before, probably with the exception of the horn concerto which has also been attributed to Joseph and was included in the Hoboken catalogue. There is no reason to ignore these concertos, and one wonders why they are not part of the standard repertoire of music from the classical era. As far as the rest of the programmes is concerned, one may regret that we get only the movements with solo parts here. After all, the number of recordings of Michael Haydn's serenades is very limited, certainly with period instruments. But they should suffice to demonstrate how good Michael Haydn's music is. The orchestral parts may not always been that interesting as Malkiewicz writes - which is probably also a matter of taste -, but Haydn rather concentrates on the solo parts, and these are mostly brilliant. Even when they are not that virtuosic they have different qualities. Some slow movements show superior lyricism, for instance in the flute concertos or in the single movement with solo bassoon, and other movements are quite dramatic and full of contrast.

There is really no dull moment here as far as the music is concerned. I have nothing but admiration for the performances of the soloists. In particular the playing of Johannes Hinterholzer, Franz Landlinger and Norbert Salvenmoser is impressive. I am a little less enthusiastic about Salzburger Hofmusik. This is a good, but not an outstanding ensemble, certainly not comparable with the best in the business. That is not a technical matter, but regards the interpretation. It is just a little too straightforward, lacking some sharp edges and dynamic contrast. A bit more Harnoncourt would have done these recordings some good.

On balance there is every reason to be happy with these productions. It is to be hoped that it will help to promote Michael Haydn's oeuvre and make it to be taken more seriously.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

Relevant links:

Linde Brunmayr-Tutz
Salzburger Hofmusik

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