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Classical - Released November 15, 2019 | harmonia mundi

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Joseph Haydn composed around 15 masses between 1748 and 1802. The Missa Cellensis in honorem Beatissimae Virginis Mariae, presented here in this new release from the Akademie für Alte Musik and the excellent RIAS-Kammerchor Berlin conducted by Justin Doyle, is better known by the later name Missa Sanctae Caeciliae ("Mass for Saint Cecilia"). It's the most vast of Haydn's masses and his only mass-cantata in the solemn Neapolitan style, whose numbers alternate between arias, ensembles and choirs. It seems that Haydn had intended the composition of this mass to be a great coup: it is a deft mix of the "modern" writing of his day and the "baroque" writing of his predecessors. In his monumental biography of the composer, Marc Vignal notes correctly that Haydn's masses are first-rate, not only set against the production of his quartets or symphonies, but also when set against the religious music of his times. This recording, taken at a June 2018 concert at the Berlin Konzerthaus, completes a RIAS-Kammerchor discography which is already rich in choral works but which hadn't yet tackled Haydn's masterpieces. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Solo Piano - Released May 17, 2019 | Mirare

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Quartets - Released October 7, 2014 | Arcana

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Symphonic Music - Released August 6, 2007 | Warner Classics International

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This live recording of a group of Haydn's late masterworks lies at the intersection of several tales of trouble -- that of Simon Rattle's conductorship of the venerable Berlin Philharmonic, that of the EMI label's flagging fortunes and those of the classical recording industry in general, and that of the attempts of the massive symphony orchestras rooted in the nineteenth century to remain relevant in music written by composers who for the most part had no inkling of their existence. The results are, well, troubled. Rattle tries to borrow a page from the authentic-performance book, using a small group of strings with little vibrato and striving for transparent textures that reveal Haydn's wind and horn parts. The trouble is that he seems stuck in a 1970s conception of historical performance, apparently believing that it means interpretations that are restrained to the point of being pinched, yet at the same time outrageously unorthodox. A few hours of listening to the Haydn recordings of Thomas Fey and the Ensemble La Passione would have set him straight on the issue of restraint, but what you get here are recordings that, as flawlessly as the Berliners may play, are pretty lifeless. Hear the mushy, directionless slow introduction to the first movement of the Symphony No. 91 (CD 2, track 1), for example. Rattle's tinkering with the score (he has an odd way of making phrases back off dynamically in mid-utterance, robbing Haydn of his robust good cheer) largely fails to convince. His tempos are fast to the point of breakneck, destroying the minuets' fun-at-the-expense-of-the-courtiers mood and turning the great false endings of the Symphony No. 90 in C major into nervous, slightly unpleasant moments. That finale appears on disc 1 in two separate versions, one with the audience breaking mistakenly into applause (and then laughter) at the false ending, the other with the applause edited out (the timing of this one is way off in the track list, incidentally). This doesn't really come off, for on all the rest of the recordings audience sound of all kinds is ruthlessly edited out -- the applause, when it does happen, sounds like a horror film effect, and the eerie sonic backdrop sounds as though someone couldn't decide whether the recording was live or studio. There are good moments here -- the sly opening movement of the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, where Rattle's restraint becomes a virtue, and the detailed thinking-out of some of the development sections -- but the set as a whole is too clever by half.
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Symphonic Music - Released July 15, 2013 | naïve classique

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Classical - Released November 2, 2018 | First Hand Records

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Solo Piano - Released July 5, 2019 | BIS

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Solo Piano - Released January 6, 2017 | SOMM Recordings

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Classical - Released September 11, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released January 13, 2014 | Mirare

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Classical - Released June 15, 2012 | RCA Red Seal

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Oratorios (secular) - Released July 31, 2007 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released May 26, 2011 | Ricercar

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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | BIS

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Classical - Released September 13, 2019 | Profil

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Classical - Released May 25, 2010 | BIS

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Classical - Released February 6, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 29, 2012 | Passacaille

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Lieder (German) - Released April 7, 2014 | harmonia mundi

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Late in life, Franz Joseph Haydn made about 125 arrangements of Scottish songs for the publisher George Thomson. Thomson's project was an ongoing one in the 1790s and early 1800s; after a volume with arrangements by Scots composers sold well, Thomson was apparently inspired to commission more of the same from "name" composers like Haydn and later Beethoven, Hummel, and Weber. The results were more than purely financially motivated. The aged Haydn proclaimed in one of his submissions to Thomson that he was proud of his work, and Beethoven seems to have gone on to set a variety of national popular songs (the term "folk songs" is anachronistic here, for the materials were contemporary) without any commission at all. Haydn's are pretty regular in structure, with a strophic setting for a trio of piano, violin, and cello, and an instrumental introduction that neatly sets the mood and the pitch world for the song. It's easy to see why Haydn became intrigued by the project: within the severe constraints of the form, he introduces quite a variety of expressive touches, and he was obviously well coached on the meaning of the texts (or absorbed a great deal of English in the course of his travels to London), even those in Scots dialect. There is little to tell the listener that German tenor Werner Güra is anything other than a native English speaker, and he even does well with the Scots pieces (everything is translated into German and French in the CD booklet, and the Scots texts are heavily footnoted for English speakers). The interpretations by Güra and his trio of instrumental collaborators (keyboardist Christoph Berner plays a fortepiano) are probably ideal for these little pieces. Güra keeps the music to its proper small scale, and he gives the instrumentalists room to move and avoids the mechanical quality of earlier readings. There's nothing revelatory here, but for those interested in the development of Scottish song, or in hearing some of the last notes Haydn set to paper, this is a strong pick.
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Classical - Released May 1, 2003 | BIS

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