Haydn: Cello Concertos; Minuets

Ivan Monighetti / Sinfonia Iuventus

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Haydn: Cello Concertos; Minuets Review

by James Manheim

Cellist Ivan Monighetti, Russian despite the Italian name, was a student of Mstislav Rostropovich. He recorded both mainstream repertory and contemporary music, and his playing has inspired both praise and heated condemnation. It's hard to understand what the fuss is about when hearing these crisp, sensitive recordings of Haydn's two concertos (on a Ruggieri cello from 1693), in which Monighetti is accompanied by an orchestra of Polish conservatory graduates and students. The program is nicely organized, with the concertos each flanked by orchestral minuets that are clever in themselves. More than 15 years of eventful stylistic development separated the Cello Concerto in C major, Hob. 7b/1, written in the early 1760s, from the Cello Concerto in D major, Hob. 7b/2, of 1783, and Monighetti almost sounds like two different cellists in his performances of these works. The earlier concerto is classic youthful Haydn, with a large majority of the first movement's thematic material introduced in the first movement's orchestral exposition; Monighetti offers vigorous rhythms and a sharp, rather piercing tone that tries to re-create something of the surprise the work's first hearers would have felt. In the more expansive second concerto his tone is melodic and a bit languid. The young Polish players, with Monighetti conducting from the cello, are sensitively coordinated with the solos at the joints, and each movement of both concertos is sensitively worked out down to the local level of detail. This release, from mostly little-known performers, can stand with any Haydn cello concerto album on the market. It's idiomatic, technically deft, and carefully done.

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