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Comparing the two Haydns


hanssler CD 98.144

Record Box


Missa in Tempore Belli / Requiem 'Opus Ultimum'. Copyright (c) 1991/2 Haenssler VerlagThe forces mustered here face one of Joseph Haydn's most endearing settings of the Mass with joy in their hearts, unless I misjudge what I hear on the CD. The music is rich in quality and sumptious in sound, especially the Agnus and Dona nobis pacem with battle array of trumpets and drums. Whilst most musicians are aware of Haydn's capabilities, recollections of what he has left us should stick in our minds for its absolute mastery of an idiom. Haydn's fingerprints are usually identified quickly, only then to display the wider canvas and strength in every brushstroke.

The Paukenmesse of course came from a turbulent period, and echoes this in many ways. Nonetheless, what we hear can only bear our own estimation of musical excellence, which is also judged in relation to the level of involvement by performers. This aspect of the recording is lifted well clear of the average by their commitment, excellently supported by conductor Helmuth Rilling.

To cite three spots where absolute beauty takes over: the Qui tollis of the Gloria [listen], Et incarnatus est of the Credo [listen] and the Benedictus. The Agnus has beautous moments, and the dramatic effect of a drum-led crescendi as it moves towards the Dona nobis pacem [listen].

Michael Haydn's fragment of a Requiem is sadly all that he had written before his death in 1806. His music was characteristically good and well written, yet the music that flew out of his brother's invention blazed a sparkling trail of liquid fire. There is little comparison.


Copyright © Basil Ramsey, December 22nd 1999 



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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews