Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A promising start to a new series

Michael Haydn, like Mozart, wrote (more or less) 41 symphonies. Most of us didn't know what kind of music was in that series until the ground-breaking 6-CD set of complete symphonies on CPO, with Bohdan Warchal and the Slovak Chamber Orchestra. Now we begin a new series, across the border in the Czech Republic. Here is Patrick Gallois conducting a very loose Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice at the recording session. I love the bassist; he's obviously having fun!

Compare that with Warchal and the Slovaks' more buttoned-down, straighter approach. As solid as the CPO series is, it sounds more stolid by comparison.

Another reason I prefer the new recording is the harpsichord, which is brought forward in all of the symphonies on this disc. It's a charming grace note to the younger Haydn's charming but somewhat limited music. Talented as he was, Michael Haydn stayed behind in Salzburg though he had opportunities in the larger world, and his provincialism contrasts with his elder brother's cosmopolitan outlook.

In some ways Michael Haydn's music is closer to Mozart than to his brother. The highlight of the disc is the first movement of the D major Symphony, P21, from 1785, which begins with a meltingly beautiful Adagio, that's enhanced by a gorgeous harpsichord filigree here. The rest of the movement rushes forward in a jolly way, with an opera buffa feeling that's more Wolfgang than brother Joseph.

This disc is out June 10, 2016. I look forward to the continuation of this series!

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