Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Concerto for Horn no.1 in D, Hob.VIId:3 (1762) [15:08]
Michael HAYDN (1737-1806)
Romance for Horn and String Quartet (after Mozart) [4:22]
Joseph HAYDN or Michael HAYDN ?
Concerto for Horn no. 2 in D Hob.VIId:4 [13:53]
Divertimento a tre Hob.IV:5 (c.1767) [7:17]
Adagio and allegro molto for Horn and Trombone from Serenade in D
Jasper de Waal (horn)
Jörgen van Rijen (trombone)
Henk Rubingh (violin: Romance, Divertimento) Marijn Mijnders (violin:
Roland Krämer (viola: Romance); Benedikt Enzler (cello: Romance,
Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra/Henk Rubingh (leader)
rec. Waalse Kerk, Amsterdam, Netherlands, June and September 2009.
CHANNEL CLASSICS CCSSA30210
This recording is issued in Channel Classics’ First Desk
series; Jasper de Waal has held that position as principal horn with the
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra since 2004. Additionally we have solo parts
for the leader and for the principal trombonist, who has already featured on
his own recording (CCSSA22305).
Haydn’s horn concertos are not nearly as well as known as
Mozart’s; here we have what are variously known as No.1 or 3 and No.2
or 4, the second of which may be by his younger brother Michael - Channel
Classics are hedging their bets on this one, speculating that it may be a
work by the young Joseph or his brother. Otherwise we have a Divertimento in
D by Joseph Haydn, a Romance for horn and string quartet which Michael Haydn
composed after Mozart’s death and which owes so much to the slow
movement of K447 that it’s listed here as a work of joint authorship
and two movements from Michael Haydn’s Serenade in D - why not the
whole work to bring the playing time up to a more reasonable length?
There’s less opportunity for the soloist to shine in Haydn
than in the Mozart concertos but Jasper de Waal makes the most of his
opportunities in No.1 (3). I think that Anthony Halstead, playing a natural
horn, makes a riper sound on Nimbus NI5190 - review - and I prefer the period-instrument
accompaniment that he receives from the Hanover Band and Roy Goodman. The
main difference between the two performances comes in the adagio
second movement, where the more leisurely tempo on Nimbus is very effective,
especially as the allegro finale, taken at almost exactly the same
speed on both versions, makes a more effective showing after the slower
tempo for the preceding movement. I should add, however, that it’s one
of those cases where I was quite happy with de Waal until I heard Halstead.
There’s more opportunity for the soloist to shine in the
movement which Michael Haydn ‘cribbed’ from Mozart - it’s
a meatier and more familiar solo part and he delivers an affective
performance of it. Once again, however, I had in the back of my mind the
recollection of a riper tone in performances of the equivalent Mozart
movement. It was really unfair of me to listen to Denis Brain straight
afterwards - recently reissued for the nth time on EMI Masters
6783282 and a superb bargain at around £8.00 or less - so I also
listened to Anthony Pyatt with the ASMF and Neville Marriner (Warner Erato
Apex 256468161-9), a budget price release which I recommended - review - particularly for steering a middle way between
over-affective and underplayed accounts of this very movement. Both Brain
and Pyatt produced a riper tone, despite the clear advantages of the new
recording, heard from the stereo SACD layer, over the mono EMI and,
comparatively, even over the Warner CD.
That Halstead recording would be my overall recommendation for Horn
Concerto No.1 (3) but there’s another Nimbus recording which
duplicates even more of the Channel Classics programme: on NI5010 Michael
Thompson performs both Joseph Haydn horn concertos and the Divertimento a 3
with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Christopher Warren-Green; the
coupling is Josef Haydn’s popular Trumpet Concerto, Hob.VIIe:1. Like
Halstead and Goodman, Thompson and Warren-Green give a little more weight to
the adagio of Hob.VIId:3 and they offer good performances of the
other works, with John Wallace the able soloist in the Trumpet Concerto.
I listened to the Nimbus recording from the Naxos Music Library, so
I don’t have the notes, but it appears that Hob.VIId:4 is attributed
to Joseph Haydn there. No matter who the actual composer is, it’s well
worth hearing and there’s not much to choose between the de Waal and
Thompson recordings apart from the cadenzas - Thompson employs his own - and
the availability of the Channel Classics version in SACD. In terms of
ripeness of tone neither quite matches Halstead in in Hob.VIId:3 or Brain in
the Mozart borrowing.
There’s one other coupling of the two Horn Concertos,
Hob.VIId:3 and d:4, that you may wish to consider; on Hänssler 98.611 a
ripe-toned Wilhelm Bruns (natural horn) and the Heidelberg Symphony
Orchestra conducted by Thomas Fey couple them with the ‘Horn
Signal’ Symphony, No.31. If that’s the coupling that you are
looking for - and it makes a logical programme - you need not hesitate.
Thomas Fey sometimes adopts an idiosyncratic approach to Haydn but
there’s nothing here to be wary of; I particularly liked the sprightly
tempo for the first movement of Hob.VIId:4.
So it’s swings and roundabouts. Halstead produces a riper tone
on Hob.VIId.3; he doesn’t include Hob.VIId.4 but the coupling there is
also apt and desirable - Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No.31 with a
prominent horn part and Michael Haydn’s undoubted Horn Concerto in D,
P134. Bruns is equally adept on the natural horn and again offers a logical
all-Joseph Haydn programme. Thompson offers a near-identical programme to de
Waal but with the substitution of the Trumpet Concerto for the two short
Michael Haydn works.
All four performances are good, though I think that Halstead’s
and Brun’s extra ripeness of tone and the superb way in which they
manipulate that crotchety beast the natural horn just place them joint top
of this tree for me. I don’t wish, however, to exaggerate their
superiority to de Waal and Thompson. Choice of coupling could be relied on
to guide your choice.
All four recordings are good, even as heard from the Naxos Music
Library in the case of the two Nimbus CDs and the Hänssler. Because I
listened to them in that format, I hesitate to pronounce the Channel
Classics recording superior but it is very good, especially as heard in
SACD; as so often with this format the extra quality won’t strike you
like a Road to Damascus revelation but it does open out the sound an
important bit more.