Quirine Viersen, Franz Joseph Haydn, Cello Concertos in C and D, Symphony No. 60 ‘Il distratto’

Gavin Borchert

By Gavin Borchert

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
One of Haydn’s strangest symphonies — and his best cello concerto.

Of Haydn's two cello concertos, the second one (to my ears the more fun and interesting one) was only discovered in the 1960s; the last movement zips by, and Quirine Viersen plays with a dazzling electricity here. The Symphony No. 60 is Haydn's weirdest; it's a suite of six movements that began life as incidental music to a comedy, Il distratto — roughly, “The Distracted One.” The music seems to be as addled and forgetful as the play's title character. The slow movements keep drifting off here and there — Haydn has composed A.D.D. right into his score — and in the last movement, the instruments have apparently even forgot to tune. The blasting opening is interrupted, to surreal effect, so they can do so.