Camerata presents: HAYDN IN THE CHURCH 2023
Josef HAYDN – Symphony No. 17 in F Major Hob.1.17
Wolfgang MOZART – Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat K.364
Anne Loeser (violin) / Victoria Jaenecke (viola)
St.Peter’s Church-on-Willis, Wellington
Friday, October 20th, 2023
Sometimes one goes to a concert which by dint of the music and the playing seems not a moment too short or too long – this evening, with merely two works on the programme (one of which took less than two thirds of the time of the other), it felt as though we were transported from one to the other by a kind of osmosis, as there was no “proper” interval between the two, merely what felt like a “luftpause” to allow the slightly different arrangement of the two works to be set up.
The programme opened with a Haydn symphony (No.17 in F Major), part of a series that has been a feature of the ensemble’s presentations of late. This was an early work of the composer’s , and not unlike some kind of extended three-part operatic overture in effect – certainly a grand and varied beginning to one’s listening for the evening.
Straightaway I was transported by the openness of the sound during the work’s first few bars, with the horn timbres taking the music al fresco, and the joyfulness of the dancing rhythms doing the rest As in some of the earlier Mozart symphonies, the winds also frequently coloured the texture with long but supple lines – so although the strings had the bulk of the melodic material, the winds (including the horns) frequently “coloured’ the ambiences, which in this symphony were lively and not a little exploratory, developing both the theme’s upward-rushing muscularity and making use of numerous “offshoots” of impulse in unexpected ways.
The slow movement was graciousness itself at the beginning, its sequences seeming to weave an endless continuation of variants of the opening – I became lost in its enchantment and its apparent inexhaustibility – no contrivance or striving for effect, but simply creativity being given quiet but purposeful energy. As with the previous two movements, the finale finds ways of making the expected unexpected – the triple-time Allegro turns, twists, runs and jumps, and generally led our ears a merry dance! Again, the horns open up the spaces suggested by the music’s energies, and the winds’ rustic colourings delight the sensibilities. Despite the movement’s brevity, Haydn’s seemingly boundless invention seemed to once more carry our interest along with the sounds’ continued delight in discovery.
Nothing could have better prepared us for the delights that were to follow, with Camerata leader Anne Loeser and violist Victoria Jaenecke entering to play for us Mozart’s adorable K.364, the Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat for violin and viola. From the beginning the sound was lovely, with especially telling dynamic variation from winds and horns and lower strings – the violins themselves seemed a trifle overwhelmed by their colleagues’ characterful strains at first, though the wonderful “Mannheim crescendo” that Mozart gives us in this first tutti here really made an exciting impact. Both soloists with their first notes were silver-toned and ethereal, each more so than I expected they would be, even though their passage-work was exemplary. Anne Loeser led the way into the beautiful minor-key development, each soloist making the most of the music’s pathos, and supported by the orchestra players so well. And their teamwork during the cadenza was exemplary, playing into each others’ music with real aplomb, though both gave me a start by plunging back into the allegro more quickly with their concluding trills than those on my favourite recording (the Oistrakhs pere and fils).
I couldn’t imagine the slow movement being better done than here, with each of the soloists seeming to “play out” more than in the first movement, while integrating their tones clearly and sensitively in the exchanges, the cadenza passage a highlight of the performance with its heart-stopping sense of time almost standing still. And the finale reinforced this “playing as one” kind of Elysium-like culmination of energies and purposes throughout the work – we all enjoyed the tidal ebbing and flowing between violin and viola, and also soloists and orchestra, as the work arched upwards towards its culmination in a final grand accord.