Vivaldi is greatly over-rated - a dull fellow who would compose the same form over many times. Such is the opinion of one of the great composers on the music of another great composer. Given the evidence of the present newly re-released complete Vivaldi cello concertos incredulity can be the only response to this assessment. But then Stravinsky was a man who voiced strong, often acerbic and sometimes outrageous opinions on virtually anything suggested to him. He had probably heard few, if any, of these cello concertos and irrespective would it have made any difference?
The Cello Concerto No.1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1, by Joseph Haydn was composed around 1761–1765 for longtime friend Joseph Weigl, then the principal cellist of Prince Nicolaus's Esterhazy Orchestra. The work was presumed lost until 1961, when musicologist Oldrich Pulkert discovered a copy of the score at the Prague National Museum. Though some doubts have been raised about the authenticity of the work, most experts believe that Haydn did compose this concerto.
Among his many famous and beloved concertos, Vivaldi wrote no fewer than twenty-seven for the cello an instrument that at the time was generally consigned to playing basso continuo. With the genuine virtuosi he had available to him at the Ospedale della Pietà, the Prete Rosso played a key role in the emancipation of the cello. On this new CD of Vivaldi concertos, acclaimed cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras is supported by the musicians of the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in a fascinating program that is further enhanced by a selection of highly expressive Sinfonias by Antonio Caldara.
This is a very significant historical reissue and Naxos and sound restorer Mark Obert-Thorn deserve warm thanks for bringing it back and cheap (Pearl had issued the same Dvorak in the mid-1990s, together with Feuermann's earlier recording of only the second and third movements of the Haydn Concerto under Frieder Weissmann, but it now sells at hefty prices on the marketplace, The Young Feuermann).
The music of Nino Rota is featured on this album with cellist Friedrich Kleinhapl and Philharmonisches Orchester Augsburg conducted by Dirk Kaftan. Rota is a musical chameleon who convincingly conjures Mozart, 19th-century Romantics, or Hollywood. The first of his two cello concertos on the album is a romantic throwback to the 19th century, though written in 1972. Kleinhapl is a perfect choice to perform this work, for his playing is very agile and expressive. His tends to have a thinner, more lyrical style of playing, like a violin, and his bow technique is fluid, moving easily between the strings.