HOFMANN: Flute Concertos, Vol. 1

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Leopold Hofmann(1738-1793)

Flute Concertos Vol. 1

Of all Haydn's Viennese contemporaries Leopold Hofmann was perhaps themost successful and popular composer of concertos. He wrote around sixty soloconcertos during a twenty-year period (ca 1758-1778) for a variety ofinstruments including thirteen for flute. Hofmann's two earliest fluteconcertos cannot be identified and indeed may not survive; they are known onlyfrom their appearance in an inventory of music belonging to the Esterhazyfamily made around 1758. The thirteen extant concertos probably date from the1760s although it is possible that at least a couple of the works 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 Hofmann's many chamber works for flute which were clearly writtenwith an eye to the large amateur market, his flute concertos may well have beencomposed for professional players. Certainly there is nothing in the structurallayout of the works or in the style of orchestral writing that is in any waydifferent from his other concertos, including those written for his own use.

None of the works was published in Hofmann's lifetime although their appearancein contemporary catalogues suggests that they were reasonably well knownoutside Vienna. The survival of the majority of the concertos in a singlecollection - the F??rst Thurn und Taxis'sche Hofbibliothek in Regensburg- argues 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 completelyunknown. Among the most prominent members of the princely musical establishmentat Regensburg was the celebrated Florentine flautist, Florante Agostinelli. Itwas surely for Agostinelli that the concertos were purchased and it is possiblethat a number of the works - perhaps those for which no other sources orcorroborative catalogue entries exist - were commissioned by him or for him.

Hofmann's flute concertos bear a strong familial resemblance to hisother concertos in terms of form, style and structure. Their musical languageis similar too and yet, as in the other works, the highly idiomatic quality ofthe solo writing lends them a very distinctive quality. The flute seemsparticularly 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 resultinglightness of style and clarity of texture make these courtly, elegant works perfectrepresentatives of their time and place.

Of the four concertoson this recording D1 is easily the best known. Ironically, it owes its modestfame to a misattribution to Haydn which has been perpetuated by publishers andperformers for over two hundred years. The rather chequered historical careerof the work can be traced to an error in Supplement VI (1771) of the BreitkopfCatalogue where it is attributed to Haydn. The attribution was corrected inSupplement XIV (1781) and it is unlikely that the error had a great impact onthe dissemination of manuscript copies as the Ringmacher Catalogue correctlyattributed D1 to Hofmann as early as 1773. If anything, one might haveexpected a greater number of copies to have survived if the work was thought tobe by Haydn. Only one manuscript, preserved in the Exner collection at Zittau,has come down to us as a 'Haydn' work and yet, in spite of the incorrectattribution and the absence of horn parts, this copy seems to have been the authority for mostmodern editions. A copy of D1 (as Haydn) appeared in Breitkopf und Hartel's Versteigerungskatalogof 1836 (Nr.1022) and Pohl mentioned this copy in his handwrittennotes on Haydn preserved in the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Wien.

D1 attracted the attention of a number of scholars over the years but thequestion of Haydn's authorship was not finally settled until 1933 when theEnglish scholar Carleton Sprague-Smith discussed the background to the longconfusion over authorship in an article published in Music Quarterly andbased his conclusion on the later, corrected entry in Breitkopf. Smith appearsto have been unaware of any extant copies of the work attributed to Hofmann. Inaddition to the Zittau 'Haydn' source and a C major version of the work foroboe preserved in the Bartok Bela Zenemuveszeti Szakiskila Konyvtar inBudapest, only two copies of D1 are known: the first of these ispreserved in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and the second in the Thurn undTaxis'sche Hofbibliothek in Regensburg. Both copies agree in most detailsalthough the Berlin source contains a number of glaring errors in theorchestral parts. If the order in which Hofmann's flute concertos appeared inthe Breitkopf Catalogue is in any way accurate then D1, alongwith G4 (1772) and el (1781) is probably one of the later works. It iscertainly conceived on a larger scale than some of the other concertos and thecomplexity of the first movement and the symphonic sweep of the finale bring tomind works like the brilliant Cello Concerto in D (Badley D3) which wasprobably composed in the early 1770s for Joseph Weigl.

Little is known about the three remaining works on this recording savethat they were listed for sale in the Breitkopf Catalogue in 1769 alongwith two further flute concertos, G1 and A1. The survival of all fiveworks in Regensburg suggests that they may have been acquired as a set. G2 isalso preserved in a copy in the Narodni Muzeum in Prague and D6, minushorns, in Stift Kremsm??nster; the work is also listed in the Ringmacher Catalogue.

Dr. Allan Badley

Item number 8554747
Barcode 636943474723
Release date 05/01/2001
Category Flute
Label Naxos Classics
Media type CD
Number of units 1
Artists Seo, Kazunori
Seo, Kazunori
Composers Hofmann, Leopold
Hofmann, Leopold
Conductors Drahos, Bela
Drahos, Bela
Orchestras Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia
Disc: 1
Flute Concerto, D major, Badley D6
1 Allegro moderato
2 Adagio
3 Vivace
4 Allegro moderato
5 Adagio
6 Allegro molto
7 Allegro
8 Adagio
9 Allegro assai
10 Tempo giusto
11 Adagio
12 Allegro molto
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