Leopold Hofmann (1738-1793)
Flute Concertos Vol. 2
Of all Haydn's Viennese contemporaries Leopold Hofmannwas perhaps the most successful and popular composer of concertos. He wrotearound sixty solo concertos during a twenty year period (ca 1758-1778) for avariety of instruments including thirteen for flute. Until very recently theonly
Hofmann work to have been recorded was the Flute Concertoin D (Badley Dl) which for many years was passed off as a work by JosephHaydn, The fact that Hofmann's authorship was established as early as 1933 madelittle or no difference' Haydn was well known; Hofmann was not. Now that Hofmann'sreputation is a good deal more secure it seems very unlikely that thissituation will continue, particularly in the light of the publication andrecording of the composer's other flute concertos.
Hofmann's two earliest flute concertos cannot be identifiedand indeed may not survive; they are known only from their appearance in aninventory of music belonging to the Esterhazy family made around 1758. Thethirteen extant concertos probably date from the 1760s although it is possiblethat at least a couple of works, including D1 and e1, were composedduring the 1770s. Since his interest in composing flute concertos is impossibleto reconcile either with his professional duties as a church musician or as aperformer - Hofmann was a fine violinist and keyboard player - it seems likelythat most if not all of the works were composed on commission, Unlike thechamber music for flute, which was clearly written with an eye to the amateurmarket, Hofmann's flute concertos give every appearance of having been writtenfor professional players,
The solo parts are technically advanced and the orchestralwriting is as demanding as that found in any of the composer's symphonies. Noneof the works was published in Hofmann's lifetime although their regularappearance in contemporary catalogues suggests that they were reasonably wellknown outside Vienna.
The survival of the majority of the concertos in a singlecollection - the Furst Thurn und Taxis'sche Hotbibliothek in Regensburg - arguesstrongly for some sort of connection between the composer and that particularcourt. Support for this view is strengthened further by the presence of a fluteconcerto score in autograph (G3) - the only extant Hofmann autograph foran instrumental work that we are aware of - which is otherwise completely unknown.
Among the most prominent members of the princely musical establishment at Regensburgwas the celebrated Florentine flautist, Florante Agostinelli. It was surely forAgostinelli that the concertos were purchased and it is possible that a numberof the works -perhaps those for which no other sources or corroborativecatalogue entries exist - were commissioned by him or for him.
Hofmann's flute concertos bear a strong familial resemblanceto his other concertos in terms of form, style and structure. Their musicallanguage is similar too and yet, as in the other works, the highly idiomaticquality of the solo writing lends them a very distinctive quality. The fluteseems particularly well suited to Hofmann's musical language and perhaps hisfascination with the instrument is evidence that he himself recognised thisfact. The instrument's principal strengths are agility and delicacy of tonecolour; it is capable of executing shimmering runs, fast passage work and thedelicate, filigree ornamentation which is such an integral part of Hofmann'sconcerto style. The flute's softness of tone presents a number of challenges tothe composer and Hofmann takes good care to ensure that the instrument is nevermasked by the orchestra even when playing in its low tessitura. The resulting lightnessof style and clarity of texture make these courtly, elegant works perfectrepresentatives of their time and place.
The four works on this recording are at once typical ofHofmann's flute concertos and at the same time strongly individual incharacter. D3 was advertised for sale in the Breitkopf Catalogue
in 1767; it was probably composed at least a year or two earlier. Although onlytwo copies of the work survive -one in Regensburg and one Prague - its appearancein both the Breitkopf Catalogue and the Ringmacher Catalogue (Berlin,1773) suggests that it circulated fairly widely during the I8th century. Thework's most unusual feature is the Tempo di Menuet finale otherwise unknown inHofmann's flute concertos.
A significant number of Hofmann's works survive in asingle source including many of the flute concertos. G3 presents aunique problem since only the autograph score is extant and there is noevidence from contemporary thematic catalogues that any other copies everexisted. What is even more remarkable, however, is that in the archive in whichthe autograph is preserved - the Furst Thurn und Taxis'sche Hofbibliothek inRegensburg - there are no performing parts- While it is possible that these didexist at some time and have been lost it must remain a possibility, howeverremote, that the work was never performed.
As so little autograph material by Hofmann survives it isimpossible to reach any firm conclusions regarding his use of different paper types- Nonetheless, the papers used in the score of G3 come as something of asurprise; two types are found: one bearing the watermark of Lauterbach b. Bregenz(commonly in use during the period ca 1757-1780); the other A. Steinhauser (ca1757-1798) - The use of these papers points to Hofmann being out of Vienna atthe time he composed G3; he even may have visited Regensburg around thistime and presented - or sold - the autograph score to the court before itsexistence was known elsewhere The paper types give no useful clue as to thework's composition date although the score itself provides one hint- Hofmannheads the score "Concerto per il flauto Traverso ex g Da Leopoldo HoffmannD:S:M:"; the spelling of the composer's surname suggests a relativelyearly composition date as he adopted the spelling "Hofmann" aroundthe late-1760s. It would be safe to conjecture then that the work was probablywritten in the early to mid-1760s. Textually, the score is also revealing. Althoughit stands absolutely complete in every
detail it shows signs of revision. The second solo in thefirst movement, for example, is shortened by several fully-scored sequentiallegs before the re-entry of the orchestra in Ritomello 3. Similarly, the finaleoriginally had provision for a cadenza but the three bars leading up to the cadential6/4 - and three concluding bars -have been heavily scored out. Hofmann signedoff the score with the dedication P:[?]A: M: D: G1: ("To the Greater Gloryof God") which is also present on an autograph contrafactum part in asetting of the Salve Regina.
Like the Flute Concertos D2, D5, and G3, all of whichsurvive in a single copy in Regensburg, D4 was not advertised in the BreitkopfCatalogue. The possibility exists that all four concertos were acquired bythe Thurn und Taxis court directly from the composer or his agent. A basso ripienopart - i.e. a part with only the tutti sections written out - is includedin the set (as is also the case with G1