A Midnight Story: Haydn C-Major Cello Concerto

By Charlotte Nediger

Every once in a while, there is a piece of music that has a specific connection to something in one’s life. That is the case for me and the Haydn C-Major Cello Concerto. Our younger daughter, Madeleine, went through a period of a few weeks shortly after she was born during which she would wake at 1:00 am in great distress. She wasn’t hungry or suffering from colic, nor did diapers need changing. She simply needed to cry. She’d had a difficult birth, and my theory was that she somehow needed to work that out, and this was her chosen hour. The rest of the day and night she was quite happy.

Madeleine Taurins
Madeleine Taurins

Unfortunately this period coincided with a Tafelmusik tour — I was at home with my newborn and her five-year-old sister, but my husband Ivars [Tafelmusik Choir Director Ivars Taurins, formerly violist in the orchestra] was in Germany with the orchestra. Needless to say, those 1:00 am wake-up calls quickly became as distressing for me as for my daughters. To the rescue came a guardian angel in the form of my mother, the girls’ much-loved Nana. A firm believer in the power of the rocking chair, she took over the middle-of-the-night shifts, firmly holding and rocking Madeleine. She determined that music might help, and I’m not sure why, but she turned to Tafelmusik’s recording of the Haydn cello concertos, with Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma.

Anner Bylsma, cello

Perhaps it was simply on top of the CD pile, as it had just been released some months before. Perhaps she was drawn to it because she had enjoyed the company and conversation of Anner on tours (mom had come along as nanny when our older daughter was a baby and toddler, and a couple of the European tours featured Anner as soloist). In any case, it worked. The C-Major Concerto is the first piece on the recording, and something about it calmed baby Madeleine, so we played it every night. I came to think of it as her midnight story, and at that tender age, what better than music to tell a tale, assuring her (and us) that all is well. Haydn is a masterful storyteller, as is Anner (both in life and in music) – and it all fit.

I haven’t heard the concerto since that time, now 25 years ago, and I’m looking forward to hearing Christophe Coin play it at our October concerts. Madeleine is living in New York City, otherwise I’d bring her along. Perhaps I’ll send her the recording. She would probably find it oddly soothing, and wouldn’t know quite why.

Christophe Coin performs Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto at The Eloquent Cello October 5-9 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre.
Tickets are available here.

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