- Keyboard Concerto in D major, H. 18/11
- Keyboard Concerto in F major, H. 18/3
- Keyboard Concerto in G major, H. 18/4
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This group of Haydn piano concertos is really nothing of the sort; with the possible exception of the "Concerto in G major, Hob. 17/4," these pieces were written for harpsichord and orchestra. That's not to say they don't make sense played on a piano. The instrument slowly made its way across Europe, and a work might draw on styles that arose in a keyboard environment shaped by the new fortepiano. The very Mozartian "Concerto in F major, Hob. 18/3," which probably sounds Mozartian because the work shares with many of Mozart's concertos the example of J.C. Bach as a stylistic influence, sounds fine in the reading by Russian-Austrian pianist Lisa Smirnova even though it is the earliest of the three concertos on the disc, while in the opening "Concerto in D major, Hob. 17/1," the piano seems to distract from and derail the kinetic keyboard lines. The acid test with Haydn's concertos is whether the performer finds the composer's characteristic personality in the dramatic concerto genre, where he was never at his best; his humor had to have abstract forms to bounce off of. Here Smirnova and Poland's Sinfonia Varsovia do well, with lyrical slow movements and a nice way of pulling back at the clever moments in the outer movements. A smaller orchestra and a smaller keyboard instrument will bring out more detail in these works, but for those who prefer the modern grand there is nothing to object to here. The cover photo, showing a chess king tipped over in resignation, is annoyingly gnomic.
|Label:||Arte Nova Classics|