Haydn: Concerto for Two Horns

The authorship of this work is in doubt, and the manuscript which is housed in the Library of Harburg, Germany bears the name of Michael Haydn (1737-1806), but is written in a different hand. The date of the work lies between 1796 and 1802.

(acknowledgments Musica Rara Monteux, France)

1st Movement: Allegro Maestro

The work opens with a long orchestral introduction, which from the very first note states the soloists’ theme. The theme is referred to throughout the introduction at varying registers.

Following the Cadence and Caesura (gap) the two soloists enter in octaves. The second horn, although he has moments of his own to savour, generally plays “second fiddle” to his partner.

The second subject is a cantabile episode in the minor key, with a shifting harmonic accompaniment leading back into the Major for a more boisterous “development”. With the soloists now silent the orchestra proceeds to review the introductory music. Following a further brief excursion into the Minor, it prepares the way for the soloists. They are now in a more flamboyant mood, leaving the second horn the honour of completing the soloists’ contribution. The orchestra brings the movement to a close, emphasising the soloists’ opening music as they do so.

2nd Movement: Romance – Adagio

In the main this is an accompanied duet for the two soloists, with the second horn taking centre stage for two brief moments.

3rd Movement: Rondo – Allegretto

This lively movement in 6/8 (dotted crochet rhythm), with bold signal calls, is redolent of the horns’ hunting and communication origins. It alternates between major and minor episodes. Three times during the movement the second horn is entrusted with solos, and it is rounded off with a brilliant five-bar coda.

Compared with the two authentic Joseph Haydn horn concertos, there is no provision in the score for cadenzas, neither written-in nor extempore.