Mstislav Rostropovich plays Joseph Haydn's Concerto No. 2

Haydn – Cello Concerto No. 2 (Rostropovich and ASMF)

Arguably, the greatest cellist of the 20th century, Mstislav Rostropovich plays Joseph Haydn’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major for cello and orchestra, Hob. VIIb/2, Op. 101 with the Academy of St. Martin in The Fields. The lead violinist is the greatly talented British violinist Iona Brown (1941-2004). A treasured violinist in her own right, she left us much too early.

The piece was composed in 1783 for the Czech cellist and composer Antonín Kraft (December 30, 1752 – August 28, 1820). He was a cellist of Prince Nikolaus’s Esterházy Orchestra.

The piece’s authenticity was doubted for some time, but most experts now believe that the work is indeed authentic after Haydn’s autograph score was discovered in 1951.

Although the concerto sounds more relaxed and lyrical than its C major predecessor it is more technically difficult for the soloist.

Movements:

  1. Allegro moderato
  2. Adagio
  3. Rondo (Allegro)

In the first movement of the D Major Concerto, the tone is leisurely and soothing. However, the piece soon enters the development phase, where another theme, building upon the opening theme, is discovered. Finally, the recapitulation returns to the main theme.

In the second movement, the key shifts to the dominant, A major. The tempo marking is “Adagio”, slower than many of Haydn’s slow movements which are marked “Andante”. In the middle of the second movement there is an episode in the rather distant key C major.

The final movement is the shortest movement of the concerto. It is in rondo form, featuring an episode in the dominant key of A major and a more somber digression in D minor. The work ends with a rather cheerful affirmation, less overtly virtuosic than its sister C Major Cello Concerto.

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