Maxim Emelyanychev / Riccardo Minasi / Il Pomo d'Oro

Haydn: Concertos

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This release by the period-instrument Il Pomo d'Oro (whose name refers not simply to the tomato, but to a ten-hour opera by Antonio Cesti) sets itself the task of reviving some of the Haydn concertos that have never really entered the regular repertory, and to an extent it succeeds. The pair of conductors involved do not represent varieties of interpretation. Rather, Riccardo Minasi on the first part of the album is a violinist, and Maxim Emelyanychev on the second is a keyboardist, and each musician leads the orchestra while playing. Both favor a gutsy, energetic sound that properly showcases the five concertos here (two for keyboard, one for violin, one for violin and keyboard, and one for a natural horn impressively controlled by Johannes Hinterholzer) at their best. Interpretations that try to make Haydn into a galant composer fail, for he simply was not that, but here you get vigor and humor. Sample the opening movement of the Keyboard Concerto in D major, Hob. 18/11 (CD two, track six) for an idea of the approach and also of the rather harsh sound from Lonigo's Villa San Fermo, which may be off-putting for some. With the Symphony No. 83 in G minor ("La Poule") and a keyboard fantasia rounding out the program, the sequence of events bears some resemblance to what might have been presented on successive evenings at Esterháza if, perhaps, a visiting violinist and keyboardist passed through town. The recording may not reconfigure the Haydn canon, but it's a worthwhile tour through some underexposed Haydn works.

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