My collecting and listening interests include a number of special favorites, and the brothers Haydn are two of the most important to me. So when this disc, purporting to give us a world premiere recording of a newly-discovered Michael Haydn 'cello concerto, came on the market, I snapped it up the moment I learned of it. And indeed there are many truly fine things about the disc, but I fear "Michael Haydn" isn't among them.
Despite the opinion of the other reviewer here, and of the MusicWeb reviewer quoted on the Arkiv site, the concerto strikes me as the weakest thing on the disc in a great many ways. Thematically, it is frankly rather vapid. Harmonically and developmentally it is competent, but little more than that. What is good about it is the solo part - I would give a lot to learn how much of that is on the score copy and how much has been "edited in" or improvised by Jan Vogler - which is frequently quite effective, with passages of brilliant difficulty that showcase the performer and the instrument exceptionally well. The orchestral accompaniment, with some exceptions (the coda to the first movement e.g.), is little more than workmanlike. The total picture therefore gives us a composition remarkably similar to the Joseph Haydn D Major concerto, the famous one once described as "two lullabies and a nursery tune" that serious Haydnists still have trouble accepting as fully authentic despite the existence of an autograph. In fact there are a number of passages that actually sound like variants of that D Major work; compare the opening themes to both finales.
The remainder of the disc, on the other hand, is mostly excellent. CPE Bach's A Major, the "popular" work here (as I type, I note 18 recordings in print), is a masterpiece without qualification, and Vogler and Goebel do it complete justice with the single exception that I find the harpsichord continuo too heavy and intrusive; it becomes clattery rather than helpful. Hasse's late-baroque entry is no revelation, but it is several notches above merely pleasant, and is another good vehicle for a 'cellist of uncommon brilliance. (Hasse is mostly known these days for church music, but this side of him is obviously worth more investigation too.) And the Graf concerto, while again not a long-lost earth-shaker, is tuneful, inventive and thoroughly pleasurable after many hearings.
But Michael Haydn? There is little in this work that even hints at his style or level of artistry. If I were to toss in a possible name to be mulled over (but I am hardly a scholar), I'd propose Anton Kraft, who was Joseph Haydn's principal 'cellist at Esterhazy and for whom that D Major concerto was written. (Some think Kraft may have had rather more of a hand in that work than just performance.) Take my thought for what it's worth; but unless someone hands me a certified and attested autograph score, I'll deny Michael Haydn's involvement to all who care to listen.
A final complaint about the disc as a whole: The booklet. For music of this obscurity, something more than perfunctory comments seems called for, but we get precious little of anything. (That was one of the MusicWeb reviewer's big beefs as well.) This fact detracts not one whit from the brilliance of the musicians, but it would have been nice - especially as the writer was Reinhard Goebel himself, who presumably knows as much as anyone - to treat us to a better depth and perspective.
But with the stated caveats, I still like the disc and encourage you to snap it up if the music appeals. Certainly, for all my grumping, I play my copy often enough!