MOZART; HAYDN Concertos & Divertimentos
The three concertos designated K107 are in fact arrangements of sonatas (Op 5 Nos 2 4) by JC Bach, whom Mozart had met in London in 1764 and who was to exert an important influence on the child composer’s style. It seems that they were arranged early the following decade (Bach’s sonatas had been published in London in about 1765) to cater to the need for concertos for the Mozart children’s concert tours. They’re perfectly decent little things, entertaining in the galant style without feeling the need to say any more than can be gleaned from their glittering surfaces. Apparently Mozart wrote out the orchestral outlines, including any newly created tutti material, and his father squeezed the clavier part in on the empty staves. So they’re almost three-way collaborations.
Erich Traxler’s piano is a 1795 model by Joseph Dohnal and matches well the attack of the string trio (whose instruments are not identified in the CD booklet), even if the keyboard is a little subdued in the mix. And while there’s naturally nothing of the depth of the mature piano concertos here, these players never fail to find something to say. An example is the minuet finale of the D major Concerto (No 1), whose Trio section features plucked strings against a keyboard part with the sustain pedal held down, creating a beguiling halo of sound and a welcome contrast to the Alberti bass that prevails in so much of this music.
Haydn’s divertimentos come from his earlier years too, some written for his first employer, Count Morzin, and some during the 1760s for the Esterházy family. The piano takes the lead here, with the violins and cello supporting the right and left hands. The most virtuoso music is here too, not least in the almost Bachian toccata that closes No 4 in C.
There’s no great revelation among this music but then it wasn’t written for that purpose. It was conceived purely to entertain and that’s exactly what it does. Lovely, imaginative performances on some sweet-sounding period instruments.