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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Divertimenti: No. 1 in D Hob. IV:6 (1784) [7:19]; No. 2 in G Hob. IV:7 (1784) [9:55]; No. 3 in C Hob. IV:8 (1784) [7:44]; No. 4 in G Hob IV:9 (1784) [5:50]; No. 5 in A Hob IV:10 (1784) [7:54]; No. 6 in D Hob IV:11) (1784) [7:59]
Paul Meisen (flute)
Ernö Sebestyén (violin)
Martin Ostertag (violoncello)
rec. Feb-March 1990, Historischer Reitstadel, Neumarkt


Artists do many things to pass the time between large works or to pay the bills.  Dostoevsky wrote a regular newspaper column.  Shostakovich transcribed other composers’ works or made arrangements of his own works for other instruments.  Mozart wrote his flute quartets, in spite of his dislike of the instrument.  In Haydn’s case here, there is no indication that he needed the money, but nevertheless, he composed and submitted these charming light works in 1784.  This disc collects the six divertimenti (Hob. IV:6-11), published in London.  In my surfing around cyberspace, I’ve found quite a few recordings of the Hob. II and Hob. III divertimenti, but none of the Hob. IV, and I have no performances of the works in my home collection.  For those of you who possess recordings of the other divertimenti Haydn has written, a passage or two here may sound familiar — the second divertimento in G on this disc is based on Baryton trio Hob. XI:97.  Other movements of the trios presented here are cribbed from other works, such as his opera Il mondo della Luna, which has a couple of sinfonias that make an altered appearance here.

The first divertimento on offer here is a sunny piece — the flute here often duetting with the violin in a flutter of butterfly wings as the cello propels the piece with repeated chords.  The clouds don’t gather until the slow movement of the second divertimento, but by the end of that statement, the sun peeks through before the repeat; a quiet and contemplative movement that leads directly into the vivacious Allegro.  A terse second statement cuts in centering on the violin, and Ernö Sebestyén’s bowing here is effortless.  The third divertimento keeps interest with unusual notes coming from the cello at turning points in the slow movement, and the chord changes of the beautiful Adagio opening movement of Divertimento 4, the briefest of the set, gives glimpses of Beethoven, one of the standout moments on this disc; its closing Presto is a joy to listen to.

The recording ambience is cosy and close, with the flute perfectly balanced with the other instrument, which can pose challenges in works scored for these instruments.  Occasionally the cello seems a bit too far in the background, but this occurs only occasionally and may have been due to movement of the instrument during playing.  This ensemble has recorded another disc for MDG of the Beethoven Serenades with the addition of Wilifried Strehle on viola, and Paul Meisen has recorded several other discs for the same label, including works of Prokofiev, Reger, Reinecke, Bach, and Denisov.

These pieces on this disc, by their appellation, do not pretend to make any lofty statements or to overtly challenge the listener, but are instead intended to entertain, which they truly do.  A very enjoyable disc, a bit on the short side regarding playing time, but a great collection of Haydn at his most concise.  Recommended.

David Blomenberg


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