Haydn's Stabat Mater
nor Les Solistes de Paris have
appeared in the record catalogues much, so in some ways this
is a most welcome disc. Les Solistes de Paris were formed
by Henri-Claude Fantapie in 1964 and seems to have stopped
functioning as a playing ensemble in the 1980s.
was composed in 1767, for Haydn's own forces
in Eisenstadt. The work uses an orchestra of strings, oboes
and organ. It was evidently praised by Hasse, a composer
of an earlier generation who had a lot of influence on
Haydn. Haydn seems to have taken a lot of care over the
piece; after all it had to compete with the better known
Pergolesi setting. The Stabat Mater
has a superbly
crafted atmosphere, which reflects the darkness and sobriety
of the text. In this respect it is unlike Pergolesi's setting
which sometimes reflects Pergolesi's operatic background.
Haydn uses his solo voices with assurance and mixes arias
with choral numbers and ensembles. The result is long but
profoundly satisfying and it is curious that there are
not more recordings in the catalogue.
recording was made in 1978 and when it comes to the orchestral
contribution, the group reflects changes in performance style.
They do not use period performance practice, but the sound
is crisp and lithe. Tempi are kept moving and the overall
sound is slim and not overblown. The Chorale Philippe Caillard
make an equally strong contribution.
the same cannot be said for the soloists. None are completely
adequate to the task but Claudia Eder's dark mezzo, Axel
Reichardt's light, lyric tenor and Jurg Krattinger's baritone
all made something of a contribution to the proceedings.
None is entirely comfortable in the more complex passagework
which Haydn requires of them. But it is soprano Anna-Maria
Bondi who really lets things down. Her tone is attractive
and plangent but she constantly smudges her runs.
other choral work on the discs is Haydn's Libera Me
This work was only discovered in the 1960s and may have been
written for the death of Princess Marie Elizabeth Esterhazy
in 1790. The autograph no longer survives, but the original
performing material does. It is a short but charming work
and receives a decent performance here.
other accompanying works come from a recording made in 1964.
Symphony no. 44 dates from Haydn's Sturm und Drang
and has the subtitle, Trauersinfonie.
It is a fine
piece, but this performance does not really do it justice.
It sports some notable wind playing and the horns relish
the new opportunities which Haydn gives them. But in too
many places the string playing is just too untidy, particularly
in the underlying parts. Perhaps this would have been acceptable
in an historic performance, but in the Adagio
of tuning render this account completely out of court.
concerto dates from an earlier period than the symphony and
is far less assured and less daring. It is charming and lively
and the recording suffers from fewer of the problems that
occur in the symphony. Unfortunately the balance is entirely
out of kilter with the harpsichord which is permanently at
a notch or two of loudness less then everyone else. When
it plays alone with the orchestra, the balance is just about
bearable but when the violin joins in it dominates in a way
which is unsatisfactory.
historic disc will probably interest those who are curious
about the recorded history of this French ensemble, or who
want to hear historic accounts of these important Haydn works.
But for the general listener the recording probably has too
many problems for it to be completely recommendable.