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Classical - Released October 11, 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Le Choix de France Musique - Choc de Classica - Qobuzissime
Six quartets: six works that are key to understanding what Joseph Haydn brought to western music. This effort by the Quatuor Hanson is particularly successful because they are past masters in constructing and expressing the soul of this subtle art. And what's more, they bring it off with a fascinating level of instrumental skill. Listening to this piece, we have to bow down once again before the genius of a composer who, along with Boccherini, invented a new genre and immediately studded it with masterpieces of staggering quality. Judiciously picked out from among Haydn's vast corpus, these six quartets are touching both in their expressiveness and in the perfection of their writing. Not a single note out of place, a perfect balance of four voices and inspired right from the first moment up to the incomplete closing Opus 77, which was a contemporary of Beethoven's first Quartets, Op. 18 – works that betray the lessons their writer learned from his master. More than two hundred years after his death, Haydn has only just found recognition as one of the greats, although he had been accorded that status during his life. But his works for keyboards, the symphonies, the oratorios, and to a lesser extent, the operas, speak in his favour. More than a forerunner, Haydn is a founder, a genius whose influence was felt by those who came after him, foremost amongst whom Beethoven and Schubert. This splendid album puts him (back) in his rightful place. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released May 1, 2020 | BIS

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The Chiaroscuro Quartet made their first appearance on BIS Records with acclaimed recordings of Joseph Haydn’s "Sun" Quartets, Op. 20, described in "The Strad" as ‘period-instrument performances of the utmost subtlety and refinement’. The Op. 20 Quartets are widely regarded as a mile-stone in the history of the genre. When Chiaroscuros now return to Haydn, it is with his last complete set of quartets, begun in 1796 when he was 64 years old. The Six String Quartets, Op. 76, form one of the most renowned of Haydn's sets of quartets, and carry the stamp of their maker: No other set of eighteenth-century string quartets is so diverse, or so unconcerned with the norms of the time. In the words of Haydn’s friend and contemporary Charles Burney ‘they are full of invention, fire, good taste and new effects’. On the present disc, the first of two, we hear the first three quartets, including the ‘Fifths’ Quartet (No. 2) so named after the falling perfect fifths with which it begins. The most famous of the set – and possibly of all Haydn quartets – is No. 3, however: the ‘Emperor’ quartet with its second movement: a set of variations on the ‘Kaiserlied’ which Haydn had recently composed to the greater glory of the Austrian Emperor Franz II. © BIS Records
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Symphonies - Released April 21, 2015 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica
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Classical - Released August 19, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Symphonic Music - Released February 22, 2019 | Alpha

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The Haydn 2032 cycle being recorded by conductor Giovanni Antonini with the period-instrument Kammerorchester Basel undertakes not only to perform all of Haydn's symphonies, but also to combine them with related works of the period. The resulting programs are grouped by theme and then combined with new photography -- the works here, nice enough, are by American photographer Peter van Agtmael, but one wonders why period graphics couldn't have been used. That's especially true for this volume, Gli Impresari, which collects three Haydn symphonies and one work by Mozart that are connected with specific theatrical productions. Mozart's music for Thamos, König in Egypten, K. 345, was established as genuine only recently, and it's kind of like an undiscovered Mozart symphony. That play's impresario, Carl Wahr, was also a stage director with whom Haydn worked at the Esterháza estate. The annotations by Christian Moritz-Bauer delve into deep context that until now has been mostly the province of academic musicology. But the works are enjoyable on their own terms, perhaps less intricate than other Haydn symphonies but peppy and colorful, carrying connotations an audience of the time would have known. Sample the "Minuet and Trio" of the Symphony No. 65 in A major, Hob. 1:65 for an idea. An especially intriguing entry in Antonini's series. © TiVo
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Classical - Released November 1, 2016 | Nimbus Records

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Symphonic Music - Released November 10, 2017 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice
Haydn2032, the ambitious project of recording the complete symphonies of Haydn, has been placed from the start under the artistic direction of Giovanni Antonini, with two ensembles, Il Giardino Armonico, which made the first four volumes, and the Kammerochester Basel, to which this fifth volume and the next two are assigned. Another characteristic of the edition is that each time Haydn is set in perspective with another composer; here it is Joseph Martin Kraus (1756-92): ‘Kraus was the first man of genius that I met. Why did he have to die? It is an irreparable loss for our art. The Symphony in C minor he wrote in Vienna specially for me is a work which will be considered a masterpiece in every century’, said Haydn in 1797. Though he long remained forgotten after his death, Kraus made an active contribution to the movement of poetic renewal called ‘Sturm und Drang’ or ‘Geniezeit’ (time of genius) because such artists as the young Goethe broke free of all tradition to follow their hearts alone. When Haydn called Kraus homme de génie, in French, he probably had this context in mind. The two composers had met in Vienna in 1783. © Alpha Classics
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Classical - Released June 19, 2020 | Accent

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Composed in 1761, the year Joseph Haydn became the court musician for the Esterházy Family (with whom he stayed for more than thirty years), Symphonies No. 6, 7 and 8 form a unique trilogy in the history of music and are, according to musicologist Marc Vignal, Haydn's first masterpieces in this field and probably even for symphonies in general. Haydn put all his theory and know-how into the compositions, at a time when he was still being tested by the Prince, having to meet overwhelming specifications that would give any musician today nightmares. In these three gems of concise, virtuosic composing, Haydn distributes solos to all the musicians of the orchestra, including the double bass and bassoon, instruments which were not accustomed to this kind of exercise. It is a fiesta of sonic garlands, as found in the ancient baroque "concerto grosso", alternating with dark, deeply moving passages. The subtitles, the only ones Haydn himself gave to his symphonies, "Le Matin", "Le Midi", "Le Soir", were suggested and even commissioned by Prince Paul Anton to describe an allegory of the "Hours of the Day" and, above all, the three stages of life. Recorded in 2019 in the splendid Apollo Hall of Eszterháza Castle in Fertöd, where Haydn wrote many symphonies (though not these ones), this recording by the Orfeo Orchestra of Budapest - not to be confused with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra - conducted by György Vashegyi obviously has an undeniably authentic feel. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Symphonic Music - Released June 8, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Since the 2015-2016 season, Giovanni Antonini has been the "principal guest conductor" of the Basel Chamber Orchestra (the Kammerorchester Basel, refounded in 1984 in the spirit of the original Basler Kammerorchester, founded by Swiss patron and conductor Paul Sacher), with whom he has worked on major discographic projects, like the ongoing complete recordings of Beethoven's Symphonies (Sony Classical), which has already seen lively success with press and public alike; and the "Haydn 2032" project, which aims to record all 700 of Joseph Haydn's symphonies in time to mark three hundred years since his birth (in 2032). Started in 2014, this audacious project has been entirely organised, produced and financed by the Basel Joseph Haydn Foundation, and it aims to take in both records and 19 concert seasons across all of Europe. It is being undertaken in cooperation with Il Giardino Armonico, a well-known ensemble of which Giovanni Antonini is a founder member.. The two orchestras are sharing out the recordings which will appear on Alpha Classics, in thematic, rather than chronological order, with other symphonies by composers in Haydn's orbit, like Gluck, Porpora, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Michael Haydn, Stamitz, Pleyel and Salieri. The next few years look to be absolutely thrilling in terms of releases. This sixth volume offers three symphonies which are full of a dense and almost spiritual expressiveness dating back to Haydn's Sturm und Drang era, coupled with a work by Joseph Martin Kraus, an exact contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose genius absolutely stands up alongside both Haydn and Mozart. But history was not kind to this visionary composer, who moved to Sweden, where he failed to make a mark, despite the protection of King Gustav III. His music, strongly expressive, is also influenced by the Sturm und Drang movement which brought drama to musical discourse and heralded the birth of Romanticism © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Sacred Oratorios - Released October 2, 2015 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica
The entire creation of the world in an hour a quarter… it had to be through Haydn’s extraordinary powers of concentration that this insane wager could possibly succeed; others would not even dare attempt it. The Creation, dating from 1798, is one of the most ultimate and powerful of Haydn’s masterpieces. The great composer was always a master of surprise, and his invention of the Big Bang in musical form – including an introduction proclaiming ‘And then there was light’ – is chorally orchestrated to phenomenal effect. The work also retains a wonderful description of the various creations of the Lord; the extravagant evocation of whales remains an intense moment of orchestral invention, and the score is full of a genius which Beethoven had merely tapped into… Philippe Herreweghe has chosen to focus on a certain transparency of place, rather than perpetuating the traditional, bombastic dramatic gestures of orchestras within the German sphere. And, thus, the score gains greater clarity.
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Classical - Released February 1, 2017 | Warner Classics

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Classical - Released July 5, 2019 | Chandos

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After leaving the boys’ choir of St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna, one of the ways the young Haydn found to support himself was as a harpsichord teacher. The three early sonatas featured on this recording were almost certainly intended for his students: short, light pieces with few technical demands. The two larger sonatas, both in the key of E-flat major, were written some twenty years later and are far more extensive. Both require significantly greater prowess from the performer, and represent Haydn’s ingenuity and skill to the full. The two additional works included here, whilst single-movement compositions, are substantial pieces. The Adagio ma non troppo would become the slow movement of Piano Trio No. 36, whilst the Variations on ‘Gott erhalte’ is based on the second movement of the ‘Emperor’ Quartet (Op. 76 No. 3), which is itself a set of variations on an anthem composed by Haydn at the request of an Austrian politician for the 29th birthday of the Emperor, and intended as a patriotic hymn comparable to ‘God Save the King’ in England – and a response against the "Marseillaise". © Chandos
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Secular Vocal Music - Released April 8, 2014 | Phi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released July 1, 2016 | BIS

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Solo Piano - Released March 30, 2010 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
Perhaps one of classical music's least noted but most important stories of the new millennium has been the profusion of recordings of Haydn's keyboard sonatas, each as different from the others as are the major schools of playing Beethoven, if not more so. Part of the reason for the variety is that, as French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet points out here, Haydn's manuscripts contained very little in the way of interpretive markings, leaving the field open for future performers and editors. Bavouzet, operating in the sonically superb environment of Suffolk, England's Potton Hall and playing a modern Yamaha, nevertheless adopts the fruits of historical research in his approach. He takes the repeats and heavily ornaments them, without, however, drawing attention to himself in the process. More generally, his tone is clean, very quiet, and rather harpsichord-like. In the slow movements of these four middle-period sonatas he's low-key indeed, but his playing holds up under attentive listening; his playing successfully draws the listener into an intimate space. Bavouzet's readings generally have the sort of Haydn X factor that leaves the listener completely unsure of what's coming next. Strongly recommended and whets the appetite for other albums in the occasional series that Bavouzet promises is coming. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released July 7, 2017 | BIS

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This is the second half of a traversal of Haydn's Op. 20 quartets by the Chiaroscuro Quartet, and if you're after just one you can take your pick: both albums feature playing of a very high standard. But really the nature of the set demands hearing both: from the fugal finale of the String Quartet in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5, to the florid slow movements, to the multifarious sonata-allegros, the quartets of Op. 20 are experimental and even radical. The Chiaroscuro Quartet, using historical bows and gut strings, emphasizes the experimental quality with edgy performances, but they don't hit you over the head; instead, constant tension and excitement put across the sense of discovery in the music. Sample the first movement of the String Quartet in D major, Op. 20, No. 4, for a taste of the energy of the music in the hands of this group whose members hail from various European countries. BIS tries to maintain the intensity with very bright sound from the Sendesaal Bremen studio; the results are clear enough, but not representative of how the music would have sounded in its original surroundings. The accomplished playing of the Chiaroscuro Quartet is the main thing here, however. © TiVo
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Solo Piano - Released July 6, 2018 | Chandos

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 étoiles de Classica
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Classical - Released April 10, 2020 | Claves Records

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This was the dream of the current director of the Claves label: to record his favourite work ever, in its original version and with a pioneer of Baroque interpretation, Ton Koopman. One of Joseph Haydn's most mature works, The Seven Last Words were commissioned by the Holy Cave Oratory in Cadiz, for its inauguration in 1786, on Good Friday. Haydn told of the particular circumstances of the creation: in a church shrouded in black, the priest proclaimed each word and then prostrated himself during each sonata. The work is surrounded by a meditative introduction and an apocalyptic earthquake. In the centre, seven slow movements in sonata form follow one another, in which we find the young Haydn's Sturm und Drang vein and his maturity brought to light by his imminent London triumphs from 1791 onwards. Ton Koopman, master of the complete recording of Bach and Buxtehude cantatas, often approached Haydn and his symphonies, but this is indeed the first time that he has recorded The Seven Last Words, together with an orchestra of great tradition, the Berner Symphonieorchester. © Claves Records
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Classical - Released November 27, 2007 | Naxos

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc du Monde de la Musique
Arguably, Haydn's best opera isn't an opera at all. The oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia, Hob. 21/1, composed in 1775 and recorded here with two choruses added in 1784, is putatively a sacred work, drawing on the biblical (at least for Catholics and the Orthodox) Book of Tobit. But the narrative, featuring the return of a prodigal son, a fish-liver cure for blindness, a grieving mother and wife, and a disguised angel who ascends into heaven midway through, is a dramatic whole, full of tension and passionate arias, not a group of expected set pieces. The work clocks in at nearly three hours, which consigned it to the dustbin from its time until ours, and the present box is one of just a few contemporary performances. It's very nicely done. Much of the most spectacular vocal writing goes to the disguised Raphael, a pants role for soprano, and the marvelous Roberta Invernizzi is impressively athletic. Bass Nikolay Borchev as the blind father Tobit is also strong, with quietly sad arias unlike almost anything else in Haydn's output. The Capella Augustina under Andreas Spering keeps the energy level high throughout this large work. Negatives include residence on the flat side of the pitch from alto Ann Hallenberg as Tobit's wife Anna, surprisingly boxy studio sound from the Cologne offices of Deutschlandfunk, and the absence of libretto text in any language other than Italian. Translations would seem to be of paramount importance in introducing an unfamiliar work, and in a three-CD box there is plenty of room for a few extra pages in the booklet. The action is nonetheless intelligible to non-Italophones with the help of a detailed synopsis in the booklet commentary, and lovers of the two great oratorios from the end of Haydn's life can turn with confidence to this recording of a work from the composer's underappreciated middle period. The recording may well stimulate others by top-level vocal stars, and it convinces you that the music is strong enough to stand up to such a thing. The libretto, incidentally, is by Giovanni Gastone Boccherini, brother of the composer Luigi Boccherini. © TiVo
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Classical - Released April 21, 2009 | harmonia mundi