Joseph Haydn: Violin Concertos

Zsolt Kalló violin, Capella Savaria, Nicholas McGegan
60:18
Hungaroton HCD32771

Haydn’s violin concertos are not as popular as the ones for cello; along with Mozart’s, they are somewhat neglected by violinists, who would rather progress from the ultra-virtuosic works of Locatelli and Vivaldi to something more substantial like the Beethoven, and so are mostly left to youngsters at the beginning of their professional careers. This is a real pity because, as the present excellent disc shows, played with love and care, they are delightful pieces, with some of the most graceful slow movements of their era. Combine this with 44321 strings of Capella Savaria (with bassoon and harpsichord), Nicholas McGegan’s baton, and the poised playing of Zsolt Kalló – even when Haydn was pushing his friend Tommasini almost to the bridge of his instrument! – and you get an irresistible hour of easy entertainment. Kalló’s Liszt Prize (2014) was well deserved, having premiered a whole raft of previously unheard classical violin works in his home country. Particularly impressive here are the cadenzas – the otherwise first class booklet notes do not credit a composer, so I imagine they must be Kalló’s own work; they reflect their context perfectly with a finely managed balance of virtuosity and suaveness, indeed the warmth he draws from his instrument and his shrewd use of ornamental vibrato is exemplary.

Brian Clark