Haydn/Pleyel Cello Concertos
Ivan Monighetti really is a remarkable cellist, not least for the way he’s able to move so convincingly between contemporary music and eighteenth-century repertoire on original instruments. The passagework in these three concertos demonstrates his exceptionally clean, pure technique, and his tone, even in the highest register, is direct and clear, capable of fine expressive variation. In the Adagio of the Haydn C major Concerto he and the violins of the Academy for Ancient Music are equally successful in combining stylish phrasing with strong expression of feeling. The finales of the Haydn concertos, too, get model performances, with lively shaping, perfect rhythmical poise and a truly Haydnesque sense of joyous well-being.
I found the Haydn first movements rather less appealing, however. It’s as though the orchestral strings, and to a lesser extent Monighetti, have learnt their early music lessons too well, making the gesture for each phrase, but not remembering that in this moderately-paced music the tone needs to be sustained a bit more, and the expression should avoid sounding too mannered. Truls Mork’s modern-instrument recording shapes the music just as elegantly, but also conveys the stately energy of the C major, and the lyrical serenity of the D major, with far more conviction. The Pleyel Concerto (which also exists in versions for flute and clarinet) is expertly crafted, with many vivacious, witty turns of phrase, though the main ideas are fairly unimaginative. It’s played here with great panache and spirit. Monighetti provides his own cadenzas to all three concertos; their jokey references to popular tunes of the time aren’t to my taste.'