Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 2 in D Op. 101 (1783)
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
- Allegro moderato
- Rondo (Allegro)
Joseph Haydn was the most celebrated composer in Europe for much of his career. He was a friend and mentor of Mozart (whom he first met about the time he wrote this concerto) as well as one of Beethoven’s teachers. The son of a wheelwright and folk musician who also served as village mayor, Joseph’s musical aptitude was identified early. At the age of six he was sent away to live with, and be apprenticed to, a relative who was a schoolteacher and choirmaster in a nearby town. Two years later Haydn moved to Vienna as a chorister at St Stephen’s Cathedral, where he remained for the next nine years. Dismissed for cutting off the pigtail of a fellow choirboy, Haydn, then aged 19, worked intermittently as a music teacher, street performer and eventually Kapellmeister in a small court until in 1761 he was appointed to the Esterházy court. As Kapellmeister, Haydn had responsibility for all the enormously wealthy Court’s musical activities. As well as composing, Haydn directed the court orchestra and opera company and organised all the court’s musical activities at the various Esterházy palaces. Despite the intense workload and his isolation from other musical life, during the 29 years he served the Esterházys Haydn took full advantage of his access to excellent musicians to produce an impressive number of compositions in his own unique style.
Haydn’s second cello concerto was written for Antonin Kraft, the cellist in the Esterházy court orchestra. Until the work’s manuscript, autographed by Haydn, was found in 1951, it was thought to have been composed by Kraft. In fact it seems that he advised Haydn on many of its technical aspects. The outer movements are very demanding with rapid passagework and double stopping. Kraft must have been a skilled player, and he later became the foremost cellist of his time.
The concerto follows the usual classical form of fast – slow – fast movements. Despite its technical difficulty it is characterised by an amiable and leisurely air.
Performed: 9 and 16 Sep 2018