1760s, 1780s, 2003, 2010, Music

Haydn: Cello Concertos; Pereira: Concertino for Cello (2010) by Antonio Meneses, Northern Sinfonia

This is an odd collection that pairs Haydn’s two most famous (and likely sole surviving) cello concerti with a totally unrelated piece of music by the 20th century composer Clovis Pereira. Grumble.

Haydn’s first cello concerto is a fine piece of music but it strikes me as typical of the era (though I don’t really know that). Though the cello is perhaps my favourite orchestral instrument I can’t help but compare this work to what came before – specially Bach’s cello music, which is probably the best ever written (or at least very close to that). This is fine, really, and it certainly has a number of beautiful passages for the instrument, but it’s a little too classically Classical (see what I did there?) for me. This is apparently the first cello concerto ever. So I should really just get over myself.

The Pereira “Concertino” is very pleasant albeit traditional. The composer apparently tried to combine some traditional Brazilian folk melodies with at least some baroque influences that the Portuguese would have brought to Brazil when they were colonizing it. I don’t know enough about Brazilian music to know if the folk part is true, but this is certainly a Neo Baroque attitude, not Baroque. (To be fair, he calls it “Quasi Baroque” which still seems to me quite a stretch.) The second movement is gorgeous. The third reminds me of a melody from a film soundtrack. I have no idea why it’s included here.

The second Haydn cello concerto was once thought to be the only surviving one. (At one point, five cello concerti were attributed to Haydn; it’s down to three and one is lost.) This is a lot more laid-back than the first, which gives it an entirely different aura than the earlier work. It is, at times, significantly different in tone than I would have expected from a work of its era. So, at least initially, I like it more. For example, the first movement has a pretty crazy solo passage.

It’s an odd collection; the Haydn music is pretty essential but it’s so odd that they couldn’t find something more appropriate to pair with it than a modern work composed in the 21st century. An odd choice.

7/10

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