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Sacred Oratorios - 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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Keyboard Concertos - Released March 25, 2008 | Naxos

Booklet
In light of the esteem with which we look upon the works of Haydn, it's somewhat surprising how few genres receive this attention. Haydn's contributions and historical importance in the genres of the symphony and string quartet are undeniable, but they certainly are not the only ensembles for which Haydn wrote. His piano concertos, for example, are just as polished, refined, and mature as his more famous genres, and just as likely to have influenced Beethoven and countless others. This Naxos album gives listeners a welcomed opportunity to hear the Third, Fourth, Ninth (whose authorship is somewhat questionable), and Eleventh concertos. Performed by pianist Sebastian Knauer with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra under Helmut Müller-Brühl, these recordings are everything listeners could ask for in a commanding and energetic interpretation of Haydn. Knauer's playing is elegant and graceful in the extreme, with even the most nimble passagework tossed off with total ease; the middle movements of each concerto are given a tremendous sense of spaciousness. Cadenzas, written by Knauer in each instance, are completely in line with the temperament and sensibility of Haydn's writing. The Cologne Chamber Orchestra matches the clarity and refinement of Knauer's playing every step of the way; the ensemble and interplay between soloist and orchestra is pleasingly seamless. © TiVo
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Classical - Released December 7, 2018 | Naxos

Hi-Res Booklet
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jando has issued performances of a great many pieces by Haydn, and the temptation is strong to pass by this collection of works that are obscure and, in several cases, cranked out at parties at Esterhaza castle. This would be a mistake, for there are real finds here. Among them is the opening Fantasia in C major, Hob. 17/4, which offers a splendid example of Haydn's attempts to exploit the sound of the new fortepiano, and has some striking uses of third relationships as well (sample and note the points at which the main theme returns in this sonata-like piece). Jando uses a modern piano, but he carefully distinguishes between the works from late in Haydn's career, where he creates a percussive, fortepiano-like effect, and the Five Variations in D major, Hob. 17/7, from very early in Haydn's career, where he emulates the original harpsichord with crisp, clean lines. The two sets of minuets, and the single group of German Dances and the Two Marches, Hob. 8/1-2 of 1795 were all occasional pieces. Jando takes all the minuets at the same tempo, which is justifiable in view of the ubiquitous "tempo di minuetto" marking in music of the time, and it seems possible that the music, arranged from a version for a small ensemble, was actually written for dancers. For the casual listener these may be a bit monotonous, but for the true Haydn lover, they will be seen as deep studies in register, harmony, and melodic shape. This is thus a nice find for good Haydn collections. Naxos' sound from the Phoenix Studio in Budapest is unusually good. © TiVo
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Sacred Oratorios - Released April 1, 2005 | Naxos

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Classical - Released November 3, 1998 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released March 17, 1994 | Naxos

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Classical - Released April 1, 1990 | Naxos

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Classical - Released February 24, 1992 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released March 17, 1994 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released March 15, 1990 | Naxos

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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Naxos

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Classical - Released March 10, 1994 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released July 8, 1992 | Naxos

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Solo Piano - Released April 15, 1998 | Naxos

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Classical - Released May 26, 1998 | Naxos

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Solo Piano - Released February 28, 1997 | Naxos

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Sacred Vocal Music - Released March 30, 2010 | Naxos

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Classical - Released March 3, 1994 | Naxos

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Chamber Music - Released November 25, 1993 | Naxos

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Symphonic Music - Released January 27, 2009 | Naxos

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