Football - Haydn Trumpet Concerto

At this time of the year I start longing for the end of the football season…only 2 months to go.   Football takes over this house every weekend and most evenings.  They claim to support Chelsea but as far as I can see they watch every team on the planet.  We had an incident a few weeks ago where the boys (senior and junior) went to see Reading V QPR away at QPR.  I can't quite remember the score but I think Reading won.  They came back and (all of them) watched the match again, during which there were great shouts of glee as they saw themselves in the crowd on TV - the picture was frozen and I was called in to marvel at their new found fame.  They then watched the goals (for the third time) on Match of the Day followed by a fourth viewing on the Sunday morning.  It gets to this time of year and I start to think they need to get a life.

 OMG Chelsea are now in the quarter finals of the Champions League….that means more shouting at the TV!

This week's work is the Haydn Trumpet Concerto in E flat Major.  

Josef Haydn

Josef Haydn

Josef Haydn (1732-1809) was not a virtuoso performer and he showed little interest in composing solo concertos.  This was not so much a lack of talent or skill but more that Haydn was not by nature a showman.  Few of his works are ostentatious but much of his music is harder to play than it sounds.  This concerto is a favourite of the trumpet repertoire and possibly Haydn's most popular concerto composed in 1796 while he was working on his oratorio The Creation.  At this time in his life he had given up writing symphonies and piano sonatas preferring to compose large scale choral works.

Haydn had received a request from Anton Weidinger, the trumpeter in the Vienna Court Orchestra.  At the time the trumpet in use had no valves and so could only play a limited range of notes and keys. However, Weidinger had invented a keyed trumpet along the lines of a woodwind instrument, with drilled holes in the body of the instrument, therefore making it easier to play the hitherto missing notes.  So in Weidinger's hands the trumpet became a melodic instrument like the oboe or the flute.

Weidinger did not actually perform Haydn's concerto until 1800, possibly because it took him four years to master it's technical challenges on his new trumpet.  The soloists opening phrase would have been impossible to play on the old instrument since it contains six notes only possible on Weidinger's new trumpet.  His instrument was superseded by the valve trumpet we have today in 1820.

The opening movement of the concerto is unusually showy and brilliant, the slow movement introduces a beautiful tune which sounds very luxurious.  The jubilant finale shows that Haydn still had the ability to bring down the curtain.

Alison Balsom

Alison Balsom

The recording I recommend of this concerto is played by the English trumpeter Alison Balsom who is one of the world's finest trumpet players.  She travels extensively performing all over the world and has won numerous awards for her recordings.

On this recording the Haydn is also coupled with the Hummel, Torelli and Neruda Trumpet Concertos.  You do have the option to download individual concertos if you do not want the whole album.

Torelli (1658-1709) composed in the baroque period and was the most prolific composer of concertos for the trumpet in his day.  The concerto is full of energy and has a light feeling largely due to the fact that the notes used were limited due to the limitations of the instrument.

Hummel (1778-1837) enjoyed a prolific career that took him all over Europe, festooned him with honours and lined his pockets with gold.  He wrote this concerto for the valve trumpet.

Neruda (1708-1780) was born in Bohemia now part of Czech republic, there is little known about him.  This concerto was originally written for the hunting horn but has now become a staple in the trumpet repertoire.

Watch Alison Balsom perform the Haydn Trumpet Concerto at the Royal Albert Hall on youtube

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Posted on March 26, 2014 .