Midori Seiler / Concerto Köln

Joseph Haydn: Violin Concertos

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Haydn's three violin concertos, composed in the late 1760s, contain nothing as instantly memorable as the concertos of the young Mozart, but they are vigorous works that are idiomatic to the violin. Listeners can take their pick by now among a number of soloists and approaches, but this one by Japanese-German violinist Midori Seiler, leading the small Concerto Köln herself, makes a substantial contribution to the dialogue. Seiler's aim is a pure authentic performance, with a group of just ten players and brisk, largely vibrato-free attacks. Whether Seiler goes too far with this approach may be a matter of taste; the music is a bit severe, but its good humor is there. Probably the style works better in Haydn, whose genius lay in wit, structural manipulation, and rhythm rather than in the melodic and more French-inflected idiom of Mozart. A disincentive is the dry-as-dust studio sound from Berlin Classics, which emphasizes the most extreme aspects of Seiler's interpretation; the warmth of an Esterházy drawing room would have been a good added authentic touch. Nevertheless, this is well-executed, state-of-the-art Haydn that will be of interest to many listeners.

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