Soloists of Freiburger Barockorchester

Haydn: Violin Concerto No. 1; Symphonies Nos. 49 & 80

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Haydn: Violin Concerto No. 1; Symphonies Nos. 49 & 80 Review

by Mike D. Brownell

Despite its name, the Freiburger Barokorchester does not exclusively deal with music from the Baroque era, often delving well into the 19th century for repertoire. What distinguishes it is that it constantly seeks the perfect tone and sound quality for whatever music being performed. This varies not only between compositional periods, but even with a given composer's works. Case in point is this Harmonia Mundi album, released in 2009 as part of the Haydn bicentennial, which features the First Violin Concerto and the 49th and 80th symphonies. The disc opens with Symphony No. 80, which, although technically in the key of D minor, is a generally optimistic and upbeat composition. As such, the orchestra's sound is quite bright (right on the edge, actually, of what some may consider to be too bright) and lighthearted. The same, too, can be heard in the C major Violin Concerto, the first chronologically and the only of the three concertos that we know with certainty for whom it was composed, which is filled with youthful effervescence. Joint artistic director and concertmaster Gottfried von der Goltz takes on the virtuosic solo part with a good sense of humor and jocularity, perfectly capturing the spontaneous nature of the concerto. Everything completely changes gears for the last work on the program, Symphony 49, "The Passion." The moniker does not have religious overtones, but rather refers to the tumultuous, almost violent key of F minor, a rarity for its time. Here, the orchestra takes on an appropriately dark, imposing tone that brings ample drama and intensity to Haydn's score. The occasional string slaps, ferule clicks, and even wind key falls make listeners feel as though they are in the orchestra's midst as they sit back and take in the wonderfully varied and engaging performance.

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