Last week I went to a concert in good old un-glamarous Basingstoke. Despite its lack of style they do have very good concerts at The Anvil. So myself and a friend tootled off to listen to the Mozart Clarinet Concerto played by the divinely good-looking Austrian Andreas Ottensamer. He played it beautifully and made it sound so easy. Interestingly he started life as a cellist but then swopped to the clarinet aged 13. Despite the fact that my friend and I felt we were two of the youngest there, she pointed out to me after the first movement that we were still old enough to be his mother. That rather took the wind out of my sails.
This week I am recommending a wonderful recording containing three of Haydn's best known keyboard concertos: in F major, G major and D major played by the Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes who conducts the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra from the keyboard. Two of the concertos are from Haydn's early years and as such Andsnes keeps it all very light and simple. In the later D major concerto Andsnes adds more of the wit and drama.
As with much of Haydn's music, he really valued taste above virtuoso display, having said that his music is much more difficult to play than it sounds. His music was designed to be performed at home by accomplished members of society, as such his piano concertos can be accompanied by a small orchestra. This tradition changed in the romantic period when composers started writing for the virtuoso elite, composers such as Liszt published scores that only a handful could play.
Haydn and Mozart were the two musical giants of the classical period. In around 1781 the two composers met in Vienna they became firm friends and had huge admiration for each other dedicating music to one another. When Haydn died in 1809 the music at his memorial service was the Requiem by his favourite composer Mozart.