HAYDN: Cello Concertos in D Major and C Major

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Even if we banish from our minds once and for all the dated cliché ‘Papa Haydn’, we can still not help regarding Joseph Haydn as a father-figure in the history of music. His important achievement rested in having raised musical ways of thinking to a new level and, like a good father, having passed on this newly acquired material to his ‘children’ and ‘grandchildren’, above all to Mozart and Beethoven. In his rôle as a guiding intellectual influence Haydn may be compared with Immanuel Kant and between the lives of the two there are a number of parallels: the philosopher Kant, in Königsberg, passed many years in externally uneventful surroundings, like Haydn, who from 1761 to 1790 worked, almost without travelling, as Kapellmeister to the princely court of the Esterházys. Both used this isolation to concentrate on the intellectual exercise of composing, on the analysis of forms and structures, on the systematic development of concepts.

‘It is not easy to understand’, remarks Peter Gülke in the Haydn Volume of Musik-Konzepte (Volume 41: 1985), ‘ that the man who in his composition formulated the Magna Carta of the bourgeois concert-hall found his most considerable satisfaction in the service of the aristocracy. Since, however, he seldom felt himself in principle restricted, he was able to keep inner freedom for the conception of music that was so forward-looking’. In other words, being in the service of a feudal system — although at the Esterházy court certainly no climate of arch-absolutism reigned — acted on Haydn as an encouragement to inspiration. He must have perceived it as providing intellectual discipline, with artistic freedom realised within a firmly established structure.

During his thirty years with the Esterházys Haydn wrote an enormous number of works. The investigation of all these works poses an additional problem in that, even in the composer’s lifetime, and particularly after his death, with an eye to his posthumous fame, a number of works of questionable authenticity appeared under Haydn’s name. There were questions to pose about Haydn’s ‘little’ Cello Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:4. The discussion has still, up to now, led to no definitive result. Walter Schulz, in the foreword to his edition of 1948, declares that this ‘little’ D major Concerto ‘has the important merit of being genuine, while there are good grounds for doubting the authenticity of the work often played’ [i.e. the ‘great’ Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:2]. The situation presented today is the opposite: with regard to Hob.VIIb:2 we may lay aside all doubts, while Haydn’s composition of Hob.VIIb:4 is uncertain. There are four different sources for this concerto, preserved in Brussels, Dresden and Vienna. Three of these four name Haydn as the composer, while only the Vienna copy mentions a certain ‘Signore Costanzi’. If this refers to Giovanni Battista Costanzi ‘da Roma’ (1704-1778), known as a cellist and composer of music for the cello, then this solution may be eliminated with a fair degree of certainty. His only traceable cello concerto is in the idiom of a baroque sonata da chiesa, and a leap forward into the early classical musical language of the Cello Concerto, Hob.VIIb:4, seems absolutely untenable. Why then not Haydn? Sonja Gerlach in the critical commentary of the Haydn Neue Ausgabe (1981) refers to a series of stylistic peculiarities which make it not compelling to ascribe the work to Haydn: the preference for syncopated motifs in the outer movements, a slow movement in the relative minor, some rather conventional sequential patterns, some unnecessary crossing of parts, and, not least, the fact hat the writing of the solo part suggests a viola da gamba rather than a cello. Beside this, the probable ‘complete Haydn tradition goes back to Breitkopf, since Breitkopf distributed the concerto in manuscript and it is known that the Zittau collection, now in Dresden, includes copies going back to Breitkopf. The tradition attributing the work to Haydn comes down probably to a single piece of evidence, namely a Breitkopf archive copy’. Nevertheless it would not be right to exclude a work that has lived so long under Haydn’s roof, as it were, and is, moreover, full of charm, feeling and spirit, from a Haydn recording.

Authenticity can only be claimed for two of Haydn’s cello concertos. Both of these were probably written during his time in the service of the Esterházys, since it was expected that Court Kapellmeister Haydn should compose suitable concertos for his musicians, or even, as in the case of the now neglected baryton concertos, for the prince himself. In connection with the ‘great’ Cello Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:2, of 1783 Anton Kraft has been named as the possible dedicatee, if not the actual composer of the work. Since 1778 principal cellist of the Esterházy orchestra, later active for Count Lobkowitz in Vienna, Kraft was accounted as incontestably among the first masters of his profession and it was for him that Beethoven wrote the cello part of his Triple Concerto, Opus 56. Nevertheless there is no sure way of knowing whether Haydn’s concerto was actually written for him. The name of his colleague Valentino Bertoja has been mentioned. Between 1780 and 1788 he was second cellist in the Esterházy orchestra and appears in the salary lists of the court with some additional annual payments, which at least suggests that he undertook occasional duties as a soloist.

As the most famous cello concerto of the late eighteenth century, the Concerto in D major holds a special place in the cello repertoire, although its authenticity was for long disputed. This problem was settled by the discovery in 1953 of the lost autograph, at the same time excluding Anton Kraft as a possible composer, when the tradition had had to rely only on the first edition by Johann André (c.1804). The discovery also conclusively rendered obsolete the romanticising editions by F.A.Gevaert (1890), Hugo Becker (1901) Julius Klengel and others, which had to some extent gained currency.

The work not only makes the greatest demands on the soloist, particularly in the matter of the thumb position, double stopping and octave passages, but, as almost no other concerto of Haydn, is symphonic in scope. Andreas Odenkirchen (Frankfurt, 1993) describes the first movement as ‘the first concerto opening movement of Haydn that can be described without qualification as a sonata-form concert movement’. This view is supported in particular by the second great solo passage of the movement, which with its intensive working out of motifs and frequent modulations provides a development section. The periodic structure of the central motifs too and their containment within a definite tonic-dominant structure provide a principal and secondary theme in the classical sense. As in the Concerto in C major, the slow movement also tends towards the sonata-form movement model, while for the last movement that form is chosen, which, apart from some exceptions, remained obligatory well into the nineteenth century, that of the rondo.

Some twenty years separate the origin of the Concerto in D major from its predecessor, the Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1. During Haydn’s earlier years with the Esterházys there was only one cellist in the orchestra and so there is no doubt that the C major Concerto was intended for Joseph Franz Weigl. Weigl’s son, the later well-known Vienna Opera Director and
Item number 8555041
Barcode 747313504121
Release date 08/01/2001
Category Classical
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Kliegel, Maria
Kliegel, Maria
Composers Haydn, Franz Joseph
Haydn, Franz Joseph
Conductors Muller-Bruhl, Helmut
Muller-Bruhl, Helmut
Orchestras Cologne Chamber Orchestra
Cologne Chamber Orchestra
Producers Rink, Ludwig
Rink, Ludwig
Disc: 1
Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1
1 I. Allegro moderato
2 II. Adagio
3 III. Allegro
4 I. Allegro
5 II. Adagio
6 III. Allegro
7 I. Moderato
8 II. Adagio
9 III. Allegro molto
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