HAYDN Cello Concertos MYSLIVEČEK Cello Concerto
Drostan Hall here conducts without the gestures that shape phrases, generate intensity and give meaning to music. His metrical beat hamstrings the ebb and flow of instrumental lines, their capacity for colour, their potential for variety of expression. He shackles the orchestra in varying degrees; and shackles his soloist too. The first movement of Haydn’s C major Concerto (No 1) exposes the conflict facing Wendy Warner, her instinct and need for expressive freedom reined in to fit constraints; and her emotional response to the Adagio slow movement is hampered by an unbending partnership. If the finale is paced to match the marking Allegro molto, the rhythm of the music nevertheless hops rather than flows across the bar-lines.
Changes aren’t forthcoming in the D major Concerto (No 2), not allowed to emerge as the substantial work it is, and bristling with difficulties that Warner overcomes, though she adds tasteless figurations to the eight bars for unaccompanied oboes and horns towards the end of the finale. She is closely miked and her position on stage also changes, markedly so for the cadenzas – superior ones by Maurice Gendron and Emanuel Feuermann. The production isn’t redeemed by a heavy-handed performance of the Myslive∂ek Concerto, which isn’t in Haydn’s league. His league in both concertos is discerningly delineated by Steven Isserlis, with individual touches of volatility from Mstislav Rostropovich in No 1 and Christoph Coin in No 2. Their conductors – Roger Norrington, Benjamin Britten and Christopher Hogwood respectively – are in a totally different league too.