Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Directed by Zefira Valova

Live performances:
April 19–21, 2024 at Jeanne Lamon Hall, Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre



Symphony in D Minor, op. 15, no. 3


Concerto for cello in C Major, Hob.VIIb/1
Finale: Allegro molto

Keiran Campbell, cello soloist



Concerto for violin in A Major, L2.13
Adagio poco andante

Zefira Valova, violin soloist


Symphony no. 44 in E Minor “Trauersymphonie”
Allegro con brio
Menuetto & Trio
Finale: Presto

Zefira Valova


Bulgarian violinist Zefira Valova is a leading specialist in early music, performing as a soloist, leader, concertmaster and chamber musician. Following studies at Sofia’s National Academy of Music and at the Amsterdam Conservatory, she went on to serve as leader of numerous ensembles, including the Helsinki Baroque Orchestra, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Arcangelo, and the European Union Baroque Orchestra. She has been Artistic Director of the Sofia Baroque Arts Festival since 2006.

Zefira has been concertmaster of the Italian period ensemble Il Pomo d’Oro since 2015, working under Maxim Emelyanychev and Francesco Corti. She has recorded with the ensemble as soloist, conductor, and concertmaster on multiple releases for the Aparte, Deutsche Grammophon, and Alpha labels. 

Awards include first prize in the José Herrando Baroque Violin Competition (2020), Musician of the Year for artistic activity awarded by the Bulgarian National Radio (2017), and the Golden Quill Award (2021). 

Highlights of the 2022/23 season have included leading il Pomo d’Oro in concerts with countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński and with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato throughout Europe and North America. 

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra

Violin I

Zefira Valova, Patricia Ahern, Chloe Fedor, Geneviève Gilardeau, Cristina Zacharias

Violin II

Julia Wedman, Valerie Gordon, Johanna Novom, Christopher Verrette


Patrick G. Jordan, Matthew Antal, Brandon Chui


Keiran Campbell*, Michael Unterman

Double Bass

Elizabeth Burns


John Abberger, Marco Cera


Dominic Teresi


Louis-Pierre Bergeron, Micajah Sturgess


Charlotte Nediger

Access full bios for core orchestra members at tafelmusik.org/orchestra

*Cello chair generously endowed by the Horst Dantz and Don Quick Fund

Keiran Campbell extends his thanks to Christophe Landon for the generous loan of a cello made by Giovanni Battista Grancino (Milan, 1707) for this week’s performances of the Haydn Cello Concerto.

Program Notes

by Charlotte Nediger

The title of this week’s concert was inspired by the inclusion of music by Carl Stamitz, German-born son of the Bohemian composer Jan Václav Antonín Stamic, and František Benda, born in Staré Benátky.

Countless Bohemian musicians left home to work abroad, in part because opportunities even in the capital Prague were somewhat limited. Many of the ruling and influential Austrian nobility had seasonal homes in Bohemia and employed local musicians when in residence, but full-time employment opportunities were not abundant. The education system in Bohemia, however, offered musical training in cities and villages alike, producing a remarkable number of skilled musicians. The English journalist Charles Burney noted that those who become “admirable musicians generally run away, and settle in some other country, where they can enjoy the fruit of their talents.”

Jan Stamic was one of these musical emigrants, travelling as a violin virtuoso before settling in Mannheim in 1741, at age 24. Taking on the German name of Johann Stamitz, he is crediting for making the Mannheim orchestra the envy of all of Europe, and was considered one of the most important of the early symphonists. His son Carl Stamitz received his early music education from his father in Mannheim, and although Johann died when Carl was just eleven years old, the inheritance is evident in his works. Carl played violin in the court orchestra from age 17 to 25 before taking up a career as a travelling virtuoso and composer. He made at least one visit to his family’s homeland, as there are records of him performing as a violist in Prague.

František Benda was the product of the impressive Jesuit education system in Bohemia. The son of a linen weaver, he went to school in the market town of Nové Benátky, northeast of Prague, where he said he “learned how to read, to write, and to sing, and thus was laid the first musical foundation with the help of the skilled schoolmaster.”

Burney recalled a visit to Čáslav that paints a picture of what Benda must have experienced: “I went into the school, which was full of little children of both sexes, from six to ten or eleven years old, who were reading, writing, playing on violins, hautbois [oboes], bassoons, and other instruments. The organist had in a small room of his house four clavichords, with little boys practising on them all.”

At the age of eleven the young chorister Benda went off to Dresden to join the Hofkapelle. In his autobiography he recalls that upon his arrival he found several musicians playing ball, and was able to converse with them in Czech. He returned to Prague a few years later, and when his voice broke turned his attention to violin. He was back in Dresden in 1733 in the employ of the Prussian Crown Prince, later Frederick the Great, and remained until his death. Director of the court orchestra, Benda was held in particularly high esteem by the King, who also welcomed two of Benda’s brothers. Burney described his playing as “so truly cantabile, that scarce a passage can be found in his compositions, which it is not in the power of the human voice to sing, and he is so affecting a player, so truly pathetic in an Adagio, that several able professors have assured me that he has frequently drawn tears from them in performing one.”

Joseph Haydn composed his first symphony while in residence at the summer castle of the Austrian nobleman Count Morzin, located in Lukavec, Bohemia. He was in his early 30s, and had spent the previous decade eking out a living playing violin and organ while honing his skills as a composer. Morzin clearly recognized Haydn’s talents, and may well have played a part in encouraging Haydn to turn to symphonic writing. Little did he know that this first symphony would be the first of 104 penned by Haydn!

Prince Paul Anton Esterházy heard Haydn at Morzin’s residence, and when Morzin fell into financial difficulty and disbanded his orchestra in 1761, Esterházy quickly engaged Haydn to direct the orchestra at his court at Eisenstadt and at his sometime residence at Kittsee Castle in what is now Bratislava. Five years later the prince opened Esterház, an elaborate palace that became the focal point of musical activity for the court, and where all of the court musicians were housed. Haydn took on full responsibilities for music at court, spending much of his time writing and directing operas and church music. Symphonic composition took a back seat for a few years, but was also greatly enriched by the breadth of his experience. By the early 1770s he was skilled enough to undertake a remarkable workload, and in just four years composed no fewer than 17 symphonies, 12 string quartets, at least half a dozen piano sonatas, as well as two Masses, a Salve Regina, and four operas. The symphonies are notable for their remarkable consistency, imagination, and passion. Only eleven of Haydn’s 104 symphonies were composed in a minor key, and seven of those date from this period. Among the most highly charged of Haydn’s symphonies is no. 44, in E Minor: counterpoint drives the outer movements, and even the normally graceful Minuet is bound by a strict canon between the violins and the bass. Relief is to be found in the beautiful Adagio. Haydn is said to have requested that this slow movement be played at his funeral, and it is for this reason that the symphony came to be called “Trauersymphonie” (“Symphony of Mourning”).

Just a few weeks after Haydn was first engaged by Prince Esterházy, the virtuoso cellist Joseph Weigl was hired to join the orchestra. He and Haydn became close friends, Haydn standing as godfather to two of Weigl’s children. His playing was undoubtedly the inspiration for the Concerto in C Major. For 200 years all that was known of the concerto was its opening theme, noted by Haydn in his sketch catalogue. The score, however, was lost.

The late Tafelmusik cellist Allen Whear provided notes on the concerto for an earlier Tafelmusik performance, and re-reading them brought back warm memories of his love of Haydn, and of this concerto. I share them with you here, and you’ll discover in them an unexpected Bohemian connection.

For 200 years, this sleeping beauty disappeared, until it was found in an anonymous manuscript in Prague in 1962, an event hailed by musicologist H.C. Robbins-Landon as “the greatest musicological discovery since the Second World War.” The entry in Haydn’s catalogue, plus the evident high quality of the work, made authentication swift, and the modern premiere took place in May of that year by Milos Sadlo in Prague. Since then its reputation has grown to one of the finest cello concertos of the 18th century, and indeed one of the best concertos for any instrument from this early classical period. Resting in amber, so to speak, throughout the 19th century, it avoided the mutilations and romanticized editing endured by Haydn’s later Concerto in D Major (as published by Gevaert) and Boccherini’s famous Concerto in B-fl at Major (as published by Grützmacher).

A courtly atmosphere is established in the stately Moderato. The Adagio exploits the cello’s singing qualities, and Haydn uses a trick favoured by Boccherini: the solo melody emerges from a quietly sustained note, making a sort of “secret entrance.” The Finale abounds in Haydn’s energetic humour and unrestrained virtuosity, making full use of advanced techniques, such as thumb-position, and exploiting the full range of the cello. The Dutch cellist Anner Bylsma once likened the tension in the solo cello’s opening note to a “cat watching a mouse hole.”
Zefira Valova’s performance has been generously supported by Bojan Pavlovic.

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