HAYDN: Cello Concertos Nos. 1 and 2 / BOCCHERINI: Cello Concerto in B Flat Major
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Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Celloe Concerto in C Major, Hob. VIIb 1
Allegro moltoCello Concerto in D Major, Hob. VIIb 2
Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)
Cello Concerto in B Flat, G. 482
The greater part ofJoseph Haydn's working life was spent in the service of the Princes ofEsterhazy, from 1766 in the magnificent new palace built in the Hungarianmarshes on the site of a former hunting-lodge. There Haydn was the director ofa musical establishment that included an opera-house, a puppet-theatre and anorchestra, as well as the usual obligations of church music. For much of thetime he served the prince known as Prince Nikolaus the Magnificent, a patronwith a keen understanding of music & a particular liking for the baryton, astringed instrument with added sympathetic strings that could also be plucked,a fact that led the English musician Dr. Burney to describe it as only suitedto a desert island, where a player might pluck his own accompaniment.
The death of PrinceNikolaus in 1790 released Haydn from his regular duties at Esterhaza, althoughhe retained the title of Kapellmeister to the Esterhazys until his death inVienna in 1809. He was able to travel twice to England, where he was made
much of, and tosettle in Vienna to enjoy in his final years the kind of society that hadlargely been denied him earlier in his career.
Haydn was aprolific composer, with some 106 symphonies to his credit, 83 quartets and 175works for baryton, among much else. He wrote relatively few concertos, some 30in all, if we are to accept all that have been attributed to him. Of threeknown cello concertos, two survive, the first of them, the Concerto in C Major,discovered in Prague in 1961 and dated 1765, the year before the Esterhazyestablishment moved to the new palace.
Haydn's CelloConcerto in C Major is in the usual three movements. The first of these openswith an orchestral introduction after which the soloist enters in the grand styleassociated with this choice of key for the cello, its most resonant. Thesoloist is allowed to make much of the lyrical possibilities of the thematicmaterial, as well as providing an element of technical panache in the centralsection and the cadenza. There follows a slow movement, scored for stringsonly, which offers music of quiet intensity before the brilliant finale, withits impressive display of the technical possibilities of the cello.
Haydn's Concerto inD Major was at one time thought to be the work of Anton Kraft, the cellist ofthe Esterhaza orchestra, who presumably offered help in the writing of the solopart. It is, however, the work of Haydn and was written in 1783. Like theearlier surviving concerto it is scored for pairs of oboes and French horns,with strings.
The concerto openswith an orchestral introduction in which the two principal themes of the firstmovement are presented, followed by the solo cello with an embellished versionof the same material. The expressive A major slow movement is followed by alively rondo, diverted briefly into a dramatic D minor, before its cheerfulconclusion.
The Italian cellistand composer Luigi Boccherini was often compared, in his life-time, with Haydn,particularly in his chamber music. Nowadays he is seen in rather a differentperspective, although one or two of his works remain extremely popular.
Boccherini was bornin Lucca in 1743, the son of a double-bass player. As a cellist he undertooktours with the violinist Manfredi, a pupil of Nardini, and the two caused asensation in Paris, whence they proceeded to Spain, attracting, after someinitial difficulties, the patronage of Don Luis, the King's brother. TheBoccherini family had distinction in other spheres, both as poets and dancers,and was involved at various times in the theatre in Vienna, a city thatBoccherini himself visited on more than one occasion early in his career.
On the death of DonLuis Boccherini's Spanish pension was continued, but he was able to assume thetitle and presumably the obligations of composer to Friedrich Wilhelm II, whoin 1787 succeeded his uncle Frederick the Great as King of Prussia. There is noevidence that Boccherini ever lived or worked in Berlin, where thecello-playing king had gathered other players and composers for the instrument,and whatever employment there was came to an end with the King's death in 1797.
Boccherini died inMadrid in 1805, and contemporary accounts suggest that he was living in somesqualor, if not indigence. He had not been without patrons, however, includingthe French ambassador to Madrid, Lucien Bonaparte.
Compositions byBoccherini for the cello include a number of quintets, with formidable partsfor the first of the two cellos employed, as well as a number of other examplesof chamber music. Recent scholars list eleven concertos for the cello, of whichthe present work is the ninth. The concerto is in the usual three movements andis possibly better known in a version arranged by Gruetzmacher in 1895 fromvarious sources. Whether in that version or in its authentic form it makesconsiderable demands on the soloist.
Ludovit Kanta wasborn in 1957 and trained at the Conservatory in Bratislava and at the Collegeof Music and Drama in Prague. Since 1982 he has been principal cellist in theSlovak Philharmonic Orchestra and is also a member of the Slovak Piano Trio. Heis a laureate of the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow, in whichhe took part in 1982.
The CapellaIstropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the Slovak PhilharmonicOrchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an orchestra largeenough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, itsname drawn from the ancient name still preserved in the Academia Istropolitana,the historic university established in the Slovak and one-time Hungariancapital by Matthias Corvinus, the orchestra works principally in the recordingstudio. Recordings by the orchestra on the Naxos label include The Best ofBaroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's andHaydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
Peter Breinerstarted piano lessons at the age of four, and went on to study at BratislavaConservatory and at the Prague College of Music and Drama, concentrating at thelatter in composition. In 1981, having completed his studies, he began work asmusical supervisor in the Czechoslovak Radio in Bratislava and for OPUS Recordsand Publishing. He has had a varied career, involving the direction of theCzechoslovak Radio Children's Choir, playing jazz on the piano and working asan orchestral conductor and arranger.