Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Throughout the 18th century, Italian violinists sought fame and fortune—either as traveling virtuosos or as part of an established musical organization further north. Two of the works on this CD were penned for such musicians, both of whom were active in Classical-era Austria. Initially, violin concertos of the period tended to be lighter fare, but in the wake of the publication of Leopold Mozart’s Treatise on the Fundamental Principles of Violin Playing (1756), things began to change rapidly. The elder Mozart based the primer on his knowledge of the technique of virtuosos like Geminiani and Tartini; it also reflected current thoughts on music. Thus Leopold Mozart was a sort of musical bridge between the Italian and South German
schools of violin-playing as well as composition. A number of composers wrote concertos that would also bridge the gap between the virtuoso traditions of the Italian Baroque and what would later be identified as Classicism and reach its epitome in the music of Joseph Haydn and Mozart.
We don’t normally think of Joseph Haydn as a composer of concertos, but he did write several for piano, two or three for organ, two for horn, one for trumpet, and four for violin. Concerning the violin concertos, one is lost; it is known only from an entry in Haydn’s thematic catalog. The remaining three were unpublished until the last century. Like its companions, the Violin Concerto in G was composed for Luigi Tomasini, who joined the orchestra at Esterházy in 1757 and was promoted to concertmaster in 1759. A violinist friend tells me this is the easiest of the Haydn concertos to perform, since it seldom passes the third position on the instrument. The concerto is also somewhat anachronistic, in that some of the figurations (triplets, trills, etc.) recall the gallant style and in particular invoke the spirit of Tartini.
As for Michael Haydn’s Concerto, it was once attributed to his older brother and dates from 1760, when the younger Haydn was active in Salzburg as a member of Archbishop’s ensemble. The Concerto is a charming work that in some ways is a musical contradiction, as it straddles the fence between the Baroque and Classical eras. Like the Concerto of his older brother, Michael’s work is more gallant in nature than Classical, but the finale is remarkable for its time, as the principle theme of the opening tutti suddenly becomes the accompaniment to the melody when the soloist first enters. There is no question, though, that the finale is a bang-up piece of musical braggadocio, filled with the fire and brimstone representative of the Classical concerto.
The Camerata Salzburg is far from a collection of novice performers. The orchestra was founded in the early 1950s by Bernard Paumgartner; following his death, the reins were held by Sándor Végh from 1978 until his death in 1997. According to annotator Wolfgang Teubner, this ensemble of young and highly motivated musicians from two-dozen countries represents “a mirror image of their cultures merged into the universal language of music.” The orchestra presents more than 80 privately funded concerts annually.
Lukas Hagen, who is a native of Salzburg, has been first violinist in the Hagen Quartet since 1981, led the Chamber Orchestra of Europe for seven years, and has been heard and critically acclaimed the world over. It’s perfectly clear from his first entry that this is music dear to Hagen’s heart and that he knows it forward and backward, inside and out. Hagen provides intensity and spontaneity, and plays with generous tonal beauty, pleading the case of this repertoire quite well. Camerata Salzburg provides Hagen with ideal support; one can’t help but appreciate their exceptional understanding of and excellent feel for the music. This well-recorded release draws further kudos for the apparently unerring art of Profil’s founder, Gunther Hänssler."
FANFARE: Michael Carter
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Violin no 4 in G major, H 7a no 4 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Lukas Hagen (Violin)
Written: by 1769; Eszterhazá, Hungary
Length: 20 Minutes 29 Secs.
Concerto for Violin in B flat major, P 53 by Michael Haydn
Lukas Hagen (Violin)
Written: 1760; Austria
Length: 23 Minutes 15 Secs.
Concerto for Violin in D minor, BWV 1052 by Johann Sebastian Bach
St. Petersburg Chamber Orchestra
Written: circa 1738-1739; Leipzig, Germany
Length: 14 Minutes 47 Secs.
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