HAYDN Keyboard Concertos – HobXVIII:3, :4, :7 & :11
What could be the possible reason for recording Haydn’s keyboard concertos on an accordion? In this case, the easy answer is that it’s the virtuosity of the Swiss accordionist Viviane Chassot. And, frankly, you could play this music on the swanee whistle and kazoo and it would lose not an iota, not one whit of its playfulness and charm.
Chassot is unfazed by the fingery demands of Haydn’s fast movements; and if her scalic runs are perhaps a little lumpier than, say, the crystalline evenness of Leif Ove Andsnes (EMI/Warner, 4/00), it’s because of the properties of the instrument, and it really doesn’t detract from the music at all. You also hear a little of the button action, which suggests that Chassot’s accordion might have been spotlit a touch in the microphone set-up.
The disc opens with the most famous of these works, the D major Concerto No 11, offering Chassot ample opportunity to show off her technique, especially in the Hungarianisms of the finale. A change of perspective compensates for the absence of oboes and horns in the earlier G major (No 4) and F major (No 3) works, thereby enriching the strings (184.108.40.206.1) in the sound picture. The F major Organ Concerto (No 7) is considered almost certainly not to be by Haydn but it too displays all the harmonic and melodic mores of the 1760s.
You may feel that the mood drifts from Enlightenment Vienna to French café culture in the cadenzas but Haydn left none of his own, and Chassot makes ingenious use of the prevailing motifs in her creations. I’m glad to have heard this; and if hearing Haydn’s concertos on the squeezebox would make your life complete, you’ll not find a better disc.