American Record Guide

Pleyel: Violin Concerto in D; Serenade

Ignatz Pleyel (1757-1831) lived in the time of Mozart and Beethoven and wrote much music that is rarely heard today. Both of these works are first recordings. His first teacher was Vanhal, and later he studied with Haydn in Eisenstadt. His patron and later employer, Count Erdődy, was so pleased with his progress that he gave him a coach and two horses. He went to Italy, where several of his works were premiered, and finally settled in Strasbourg, where he assisted Franz Xaver Richter from 1784 until Richter died in 1789. He then succeeded to Richter’s position as Kapellmeister of the cathedral. This was his greatest period of composing, and he wrote many fine works in Strasbourg. From here he moved to London, where he was a friendly rival of Haydn’s. (The two dined together often and performed each other’s music.) In 1795 he moved to Paris and published Haydn’s complete quartets. While in Paris for the next decades Pleyel not only organized concerts, he wrote music, published music, made pianos, stocked music, and generally organized musical life. He may have been the most famous European composer at the time. A Pleyel Society was even established in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 1822.

The Violin Concerto in D was written in Strasbourg between 1785 and 1787. It was immediately immensely popular, which is understood by hearing this recording. Also recorded is the finale of the original version that was replaced in 1788. This is an interesting contrast to the later, more popular version.

The Serenade for violin, cello, strings, and two horns was written in 1780 and is 34 minutes long. It’s four movements are brilliantly written and a delight to hear.

The soloists and the orchestra are well recorded and well positioned in relation to each other. The notes are good. This is an outstanding release that should arouse a great deal of interest.


Péter Szabó cellist, conductor, music editor
Péter Szabó's recordings are available on