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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN: Cello Concertos Nos. 1, 2 and 4
Even if we banish from our minds once and for all the dated cliché Papa Haydn, we can still not help regarding Joseph Haydn as a father-figure in the history of music. His important achievement rested in having raised musical ways of thinking to a new level and, like a good father, having passed on this newly acquired material to his children and grandchildren, above all to Mozart and Beethoven. In his rôle as a guiding intellectual influence Haydn may be compared with Immanuel Kant and between the lives of the two there are a number of parallels: the philosopher Kant, in Königsberg, passed many years in externally uneventful surroundings, like Haydn, who from 1761 to 1790 worked, almost without travelling, as Kapellmeister to the princely court of the Esterházys. Both used this isolation to concentrate on the intellectual exercise of composing, on the analysis of forms and structures, on the systematic development of concepts.
It is not easy to understand, remarks Peter Gülke in the Haydn Volume of Musik-Konzepte (Volume 41: 1985), that the man who in his composition formulated the Magna Carta of the bourgeois concert-hall found his most considerable satisfaction in the service of the aristocracy. Since, however, he seldom felt himself in principle restricted, he was able to keep inner freedom for the conception of music that was so forward-looking. In other words, being in the service of a feudal system although at the Esterházy court certainly no climate of arch-absolutism reigned acted on Haydn as an encouragement to inspiration. He must have perceived it as providing intellectual discipline, with artistic freedom realised within a firmly established structure.
During his thirty years with the Esterházys Haydn wrote an enormous number of works. The investigation of all these works poses an additional problem in that, even in the composers lifetime, and particularly after his death, with an eye to his posthumous fame, a number of works of questionable authenticity appeared under Haydns name. There were questions to pose about Haydns little Cello Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:4. The discussion has still, up to now, led to no definitive result. Walter Schulz, in the foreword to his edition of 1948, declares that this little D major Concerto has the important merit of being genuine, while there are good grounds for doubting the authenticity of the work often played [i.e. the great Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:2]. The situation presented today is the opposite: with regard to Hob.VIIb:2 we may lay aside all doubts, while Haydns composition of Hob.VIIb:4 is uncertain. There are four different sources for this concerto, preserved in Brussels, Dresden and Vienna. Three of these four name Haydn as the composer, while only the Vienna copy mentions a certain Signore Costanzi. If this refers to Giovanni Battista Costanzi da Roma (1704-1778), known as a cellist and composer of music for the cello, then this solution may be eliminated with a fair degree of certainty. His only traceable cello concerto is in the idiom of a baroque sonata da chiesa, and a leap forward into the early classical musical language of the Cello Concerto, Hob.VIIb:4, seems absolutely untenable. Why then not Haydn? Sonja Gerlach in the critical commentary of the Haydn Neue Ausgabe (1981) refers to a series of stylistic peculiarities which make it not compelling to ascribe the work to Haydn: the preference for syncopated motifs in the outer movements, a slow movement in the relative minor, some rather conventional sequential patterns, some unnecessary crossing of parts, and, not least, the fact hat the writing of the solo part suggests a viola da gamba rather than a cello. Beside this, the probable complete Haydn tradition goes back to Breitkopf, since Breitkopf distributed the concerto in manuscript and it is known that the Zittau collection, now in Dresden, includes copies going back to Breitkopf. The tradition attributing the work to Haydn comes down probably to a single piece of evidence, namely a Breitkopf archive copy. Nevertheless it would not be right to exclude a work that has lived so long under Haydns roof, as it were, and is, moreover, full of charm, feeling and spirit, from a Haydn recording.
Authenticity can only be claimed for two of Haydns cello concertos. Both of these were probably written during his time in the service of the Esterházys, since it was expected that Court Kapellmeister Haydn should compose suitable concertos for his musicians, or even, as in the case of the now neglected baryton concertos, for the prince himself. In connection with the great Cello Concerto in D major, Hob.VIIb:2, of 1783 Anton Kraft has been named as the possible dedicatee, if not the actual composer of the work. Since 1778 principal cellist of the Esterházy orchestra, later active for Count Lobkowitz in Vienna, Kraft was accounted as incontestably among the first masters of his profession and it was for him that Beethoven wrote the cello part of his Triple Concerto, Opus 56. Nevertheless there is no sure way of knowing whether Haydns concerto was actually written for him. The name of his colleague Valentino Bertoja has been mentioned. Between 1780 and 1788 he was second cellist in the Esterházy orchestra and appears in the salary lists of the court with some additional annual payments, which at least suggests that he undertook occasional duties as a soloist.
As the most famous cello concerto of the late eighteenth century, the Concerto in D major holds a special place in the cello repertoire, although its authenticity was for long disputed. This problem was settled by the discovery in 1953 of the lost autograph, at the same time excluding Anton Kraft as a possible composer, when the tradition had had to rely only on the first edition by Johann André (c.1804). The discovery also conclusively rendered obsolete the romanticising editions by F.A.Gevaert (1890), Hugo Becker (1901) Julius Klengel and others, which had to some extent gained currency.
The work not only makes the greatest demands on the soloist, particularly in the matter of the thumb position, double stopping and octave passages, but, as almost no other concerto of Haydn, is symphonic in scope. Andreas Odenkirchen (Frankfurt, 1993) describes the first movement as the first concerto opening movement of Haydn that can be described without qualification as a sonata-form concert movement. This view is supported in particular by the second great solo passage of the movement, which with its intensive working out of motifs and frequent modulations provides a development section. The periodic structure of the central motifs too and their containment within a definite tonic-dominant structure provide a principal and secondary theme in the classical sense. As in the Concerto in C major, the slow movement also tends towards the sonata-form movement model, while for the last movement that form is chosen, which, apart from some exceptions, remained obligatory well into the nineteenth century, that of the rondo.
Some twenty years separate the origin of the Concerto in D major from its predecessor, the Cello Concerto in C major, Hob.VIIb:1. During Haydns earlier years with the Esterházys there was only one cellist in the orchestra and so there is no doubt that the C major Concerto was intended for Joseph Franz Weigl. Weigls son, the later well-known Vienna Opera Director and Deputy Court Kapellmeister
Joseph Weigl, was baptized as a godson of Haydn in 1766, but the concerto cannot be counted as originating in this connection, since Haydn wrote the beginning of the principal theme of the first movement in his draft catalogue of 1765. Believed lost, the work was first rediscovered in 1961. In the former possession of Radenin Castle in Bohemia a score was found which, after investigation of the sources, provided reliable evidence, serving from then on as a primary source. Within a few years the concerto was played throughout the world and is now regarded as at the core of solo cello repertoire.
In various respects the concerto holds a special position. The outer movements correspond in some way to the organ and violin concertos of the same period, monothematic and following the example of Tartini and Vivaldi, but there appears in the cello concerto, interestingly also in its slow movement, a thematic dualism with the disparate elements to which we are now accustomed in a sonata-form movement, although this idea was first coined decades after in the heyday of Viennese classicism. More important than the term itself is the philosophical dimension of this duality, which can properly be understood as the symbol of enlightened antithetical thinking. We see the father of this musical thinking, and even, thereby, of Viennese classicism, here in a period of upheaval, evidence of the great scope Haydn enjoyed as a court musician.
The differentiation of thematic working corresponds to a development of the orchestral writing. For the first time in a solo concerto Haydn uses two oboes and two horns and produces through the occasional separation of oboe and first violin that division between strings and wind instruments customary in his early symphonies. A further trick deserves mention, the secret entry of the solo instrument in the second and third movements. This was a favourite device of Boccherini Haydn could have encountered his Italian colleague and his cello concertos in 1764 in Vienna and Mozart later developed this technique to perfection.
There are only conjectures as to the possible reasons for the composition of Haydns cello concertos. Leopold Nowak (1954) thought that the Concerto in D major could have been written for the wedding celebrations of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy and Princess Maria Josepha Hermengildis Liechtenstein, but there is no existing proof of this. Yet this theory has something to be said for it, as the two concertos are closely connected with Prince Nikolaus. In the first movement of the Concerto in C major a motif is repeated, quoted from a congratulatory cantata (Hob.XXIVa:2), which was written on the occasion of the Princes name-day on 6th December 1763. Perhaps Haydn intended, in the two cello concertos, to pay special tribute to his patron. This would have been a reason for him to demonstrate his whole knowledge of composition.
(English version: Keith Anderson)
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HAYDN: Cello Concertos Nos. 1, 2 and 4