Today Joseph Haydn is best remembered for his symphonies and string quartets; he’s been called the father of both musical forms. But he composed music of every type, and played keyboard instruments from the time he was a very young boy until five days before his death, when he played his “Emperor’s Hymn” three times before retiring to his deathbed.
He composed more than sixty sonatas for solo keyboard, and the five on this recording date from the late 1770s to the mid 1790s. Of the two keyboard concertos recorded here, one, No. 11 in D Major, was rescued from obscurity by the renowned harpsichordist Wanda Landowska in the 1940s, when she gave the piece its American premiere. The other, No. 4 in G Major, was probably written in the 1770s, but premiered by the blind pianist Maria Theresia von Paradis in Paris in the 1780s. For this concerto, McDermott plays cadenzas she commissioned from the American composer Charles Wuorinen. He says, “It was a joy to write them, and reproducing my own thoughts in the language of this ancient composer was exhilarating…their realization in sound is exactly what I had intended.”
The concertos feature the Odense Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Scott Yoo, and the recording was made in the orchestra’s home, the Carl Nielsen Hall in Odense.