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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Life and Works of Joseph HAYDN

Written and narrated by Jeremy Siepmann
With David Timson as Haydn
Interactive booklet notes on the four CDs
28 musical examples from all genres of Haydn’s music from the Naxos catalogue
Project compiled in 2003
NAXOS 8.558091-94 [4CDs: 4:40:06]


Jeremy Siepmann’s ‘Life and Works’ series of music education compilations for Naxos grows apace with this latest release, a sumptuous 4 CD and 150-page booklet compilation devoted to the genius of Haydn. It is a fitting companion set to Naxos’s Life and Works of Mozart (Naxos 8.558061-64). All compilations in this series are distinguished by their erudition and Siepmann’s relaxed, easy, often humorous style of delivering a wealth of fascinating information supported by musical excerpts from the ever-growing range of Naxos classical music recordings. In this instance, though, some six Haydn excerpts are included courtesy of Hyperion, Hänssler Classic and Arabesque Records.

The booklet comprises: a historical background (of the 18th century) to the life of Haydn as well as an article about Haydn in his time and his major works and their significance. A very helpful listening plan guides new listeners into and through Haydn’s vast output. There is a helpful guide and critique to further reading plus a 41-page calendar of Haydn’s life that also takes in parallel arts, cultural and historical events. The whole is rounded off with a useful glossary of technical musical terms.

The CDs are enhanced with separate visual elements in CD-ROM format that can be accessed by Windows and Macintosh users enabling viewing of all the booklet material and complete spoken text on-screen (for printing if required) within which there are links between chapters, and to the Internet.

Jeremy Siepmann’s commentary holds the attention throughout. He covers Haydn’s life fully and includes extracts from the composer’s correspondence and commentaries from his contemporaries. Beginning with Haydn’s humble origins, his schoolboy pranks (one of which got him into hot water with the Empress), the story progresses through his early years of struggle and growing fame to his long years of servitude at Esterhàz. Here on the Austro-Hungarian border, in a palace built on little more than a swamp, insect-ridden in summer and icy cold in the winter, his comparative isolation forced him to become very innovative, enriching and widening the scope of his music. Later after the death of his Prince, the years when he was fêted in London are covered and then the late masterpieces, The Creation and The Seasons completed shortly before his death.

The excerpts are generous, culled from: 10 symphonies, 3 string quartets, 2 piano sonatas, from The Creation and The Seasons and miscellaneous vocal and operatic and liturgical works etc.

Absorbing, illuminating with a light and humorous treatment, this compilation will appeal to students and all Haydn lovers and as an invaluable lecturing tool.
Ian Lace

 

 



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