In his Sinfonia Concertante for violin, violoncello, oboe, bassoon and
orchestra, Haydn combined typical stylistic features of the solo concerto
with elements of the classic symphony. As a conductor, he was keenly aware
of the extent to which individual orchestral players hankered after
recognition as solo performers. Consequently this work, which was first
performed in London on 9 March 1792, offers an opportunity for four
soloists to demonstrate their virtuosity in competition with the orchestra.
By making the violin the most prominent of the solo instruments, Haydn
expressed his gratitude to the violinist Johann Peter Salomon, who was
also the organizer of the London concerts.
Leonard Bernstein began conducting Haydn's orchestral works when he
was still Music Director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Since
then, his interpretations of the symphonies have consistently met with
unreserved critical acclaim. He, of all conductors, possessed precisely the
qualities which Haydn's music requires: grace, charm and a generous measure
of wit. This production with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was
recorded in 1984.