Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Piano Concertos: in D,
Divertimento in E?,
Caspar Frantz (pn); Solistensemble Kaleidoskop (period
ARS PRODUKTION 36 057 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 69:18)
This period-instrument ensemble (4/4/3/2/1—a double bass) has a lovely sweet tang, playing at a fairly high pitch. The solo instrument is labeled a Klavier; its entrance reveals it to be a modern piano, albeit a small one. Frantz plays with crisp dexterity, sounding every note clearly, so this instrumental combination provides yet another winning way to hear Haydn’s best-known keyboard concertos. Frantz plays his own cadenzas throughout; that, of course, is what cadenzas are all about, but I’m not fond of his. The Un poco adagio is lovely, and the Allegro assai finale rolls along swimmingly, with a few unusual, adventurous turns of phrase. It is surprising how felicitously the piano and the period strings get along.
This disc shares with many others the problem that Haydn’s other keyboard concertos are all very early works—most intended for either harpsichord or organ. Despite some charming passages, there is just too much repetitive rattling along. To Frantz’s credit, his subtle playing holds our interest through the two lengthy Adagios of No. 9 and No. 2. The faster movements also come alive when he plays, but their orchestral ritornellos are filled with all-too-conventional posturing that even this fresh, neat ensemble can’t always rescue.
The E? Divertimento for piano, two horns, violin, and cello is not much of a piece. It, too, is an early work, written about 1767. It offers the soloist less opportunity than any of the concertos, the instrumentation is not effective, and this performance doesn’t help, as the two natural horns have all sorts of problems.
The recorded sound is ideally sweet and clean—and that’s only the CD. SACD boosts the bottom end unnaturally (there are only two cellos and one double bass), which spoils the ensemble for me; surround sound doesn’t contribute much, either—it just isn’t needed by this music. I love the long pauses—about 25 seconds—between each work on this disc. A happy recommendation!
FANFARE: James H. North
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