Oboe & Harpsichord Concerto in C major (Badley C1)
Year of Publication:
ob cemb pr; 2vn va vc/b
Score: Spiral / Parts: Unbound
A near contemporary and rival of Haydn, Leopold Hofmann was held in the highest regard in his native Vienna where he served as Kapellmeister at St Stephens Cathedral, a position to which Mozart might have succeeded had he lived. Leopold Hofmann was the most prolific and arguably the most popular composer of concertos in Vienna during the mid-18th century. Among Hofmanns most interesting and distinctive orchestral works are the two concertos for oboe and harpsichord written, in all likelihood, during the late 1760s. The appearance of the two works in successive years in the Breitkopf Catalogue (C1 - 1770 & F1 1771) is evidence of a sort that they were not composed at the same time. The unusual combination of solo instruments points strongly to an external commission; the composition of a second work, proof perhaps that the first work was well received. C1 really should be considered a concertino rather than a concerto since it avoids the use of the sonata-ritornello principle which is the defining structural element of the 18th-century concerto. The first and second movements are binary structures with ritornello elements; the finale, a Menuet with five simple figurative variations after which the theme is repeated. The work has an intimate quality to it and may well have been performed domestically as chamber music. The thematic material is distinctive and interesting; the two instruments are treated as absolute equals and share in all the important musical action. Like its counterpart F1 the work seems to have achieved reasonable circulation in the 18th century although comparatively few copies survive. Among them is an arrangement of the works for two harpsichords which suggests a measure of popularity.