Organ Concerto No.1 in C, Hob.XVIII:1
Concerto in F for Violin and Organ, Hob.VIII:6
Organ Concerto No.2 in D, Hob.XVIII:2
Iain Quinn (organ) & Sophie Gent (violin)
Recorded on 22 March 2019 at St Mary’s Church, South Woodford, London.
Reviewed by: Antony Hodgson
Reviewed: October 2019
CD No: CHANDOS CHAN 20118
Duration: 70 minutes
The numbering of Haydn’s Organ Concertos is confusing and so is the instrumentation. These are works for keyboard, therefore either the organ or harpsichord can legitimately be used as the solo instrument. H.C. Robbins Landon attempted to tidy up the identification of the works published as organ concertos and, in order to indicate their chronology, he numbers Hoboken XVIII Nos. 2; 10; 8; 5; 1; 6 in the sequence 1 to 6 respectively.
Hob.XVIII:1 was scored for strings, oboes, either trumpets or high horns and timpani. This early work, possibly dated 1756, was published from the work of a copyist at the court of Count Morzin where Haydn was appointed at that time however the timpani part is clearly not by Haydn. In recordings the doubtful timpani part is usually ignored; brass is represented by a trumpets or horns.
Arcangelo is an ensemble of musicians familiar with both historical and modern instruments. They are directed by their founder, artistic director & conductor Jonathan Cohen. Here period strings add tonal weight to the pair of oboes employed by the composer. Although expressive swells leading to powerful tuttis suggest a performance practice of a later period, they are well placed. Iain Quinn’s light-toned reading suits the late-baroque nature of the music well. This is aided by the rustic tone of the oboes. The expressive nature of this performance is most notable in the central Largo and again it is a feature of the orchestral playing, the soloist is more modest in this respect. The Finale is given in an easy-going relaxed manner which suits its tuneful nature.
From the manuscript, Hob.XVIII:2 seems to be for Organ and Strings. This is despite Fuchs’s thematic catalogue of 1840 that notes the addition of wind instruments and timpani. The work is nearer to Baroque style and could possibly be from as early as 1752. Further queries about authenticity arise because there is an attribution to Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) in a score by the Prussian State Library, however Haydn puts in the catalogue of his own works. This lightweight piece is given stylishly crisp and clear treatment in the outer movements. The middle Adagio molto tempo is respected even if the movement seems to last a long time.
There is also a hint of lengthiness in the Double Concerto – Haydn not as concise as usual in his development of themes. The work has reasonable popularity and in both concert and recorded performances the solo instruments used are violin with either harpsichord or fortepiano. However Dr. Georg Feder maintains that the original intention was to use the organ. The combination of this instrument as joint soloist with violin is very effective, their responses to one another are given a more lyrical aspect than is the case with a more percussive keyboard instrument. The melodic lines catch the ear more firmly when emanating from the Organ and this shows an aspect not heard in standard readings.