Arcangelo, Jonathan Cohen
This is – without a doubt – my recording of the month. As much for proving that Haydn is every bit as fun and charming as his younger countryman as for the brilliant playing (in every sense) of all concerned. Recorded between 2012 (bassoon concerto) and 2014 (Haydn), the orchestral lists read like a “Who’s Who” of the greats on the UK early music scene and the soloists are all outstanding – the rapport between the four in the Sinfonia concertante is palpable; I wonder if Haydn’s own performances were this good.
As for Mozart, well, I have long been in love with the slow movement of his bassoon concerto – among other things, it was my constant saviour when my niece and nephews would not sleep as young children! Peter Whelan’s dulcet tones would charm the noisiest child, and his understated virtuosity in the outer move-ments is all the more impressive for not being showy. I was not nearly so keen on the oboe concerto – until now! Somehow Alfredo Bernardini’s delicately rendered account (on an 1800 Grenser instrument) has persuaded me – and I laughed out loud when the ripieno oboes joined in the last movement cadenza. The outstanding string players in the Haydn are violinist Ilya Gringolts and cellist Nicolas Alstaedt, playing a Stradivarius and a Guarnerius respectively. A large part of the success must be down to young director, Jonathan Cohen, clearly a man to watch as much in classical repertoire as he has already shown himself to be in Baroque material. I have a sneaking suspicion he might move forward into Romantic music with this quite exceptional band and I will definitely be going along for the ride.