2008, Music

Haydn: Piano Concertos in D / F (2008) by Ralf Gothoni, Finlandia Sinfonietta

This is a hodgepodge of the 2nd, 6th and 11th concertos for keyboard, all played on a piano (shock horror).

(In case you are not a classical music snob and have no idea what I’m joking about: pianos were invented well before this music was written but weren’t very common until shortly after the 11th concerto was composed. Haydn was unlikely to have written for the piano, I’m guessing, until the 1790s, whereas the music on this disc was composed well before that.)

The 11th concerto starts the disc. It’s the only one I know of that might have actually been written for piano – maybe, but it might have been written for harpsichord). It is the most famous of these concertos and supposedly the most Mozartian – which explains why I am not absolutely loving it, har har har. Mozart was overrated. Ahem.

The piano part is showy (in a good way) but the orchestra sort of feels like an afterthought a lot of the time – in the first movement particularly. It was early days for the genre (invented by Bach – maybe? – only half a century earlier) and so that’s entirely understandable. But the music often feels like it’s introducing the piano passages, as if our ears were not to be trusted to just the piano.

But the slow movement brings to mind the “Moonlight” sonata, so that’s cool.

The so-called “Double Concerto” (#6) is not exactly what I think of when I think of “double” concerti. (I think of two solo instruments.) Despite its age, the work has a more developed orchestra part (to my ears) than the 11th. It’s altogether more of Haydn’s style, to my ears. And so I respect that more, even if it is a little too “classical” for my taste.

The 2nd concerto is the oldest of the three, the most typical (I assume) and, oddly, the most pleasing. Again the orchestra feels like a valued contributor to the work, perhaps even more so than in the 6th.  This is probably as straightforward and unimaginative as classical piano concertos by major composers get, but I find it less difficult to get my head around than the other two in this package. I enjoy it.

Overall, an odd collection from two distinct periods in Haydn’s career. Why not put the first three together, or a middle set, or the last few? I will never know.


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