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Early Music

Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger



 

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
24 Minuets, Hob.IX:16 (c.1790) [63’30"]
Philharmonia Hungarica/Antal Dorati
recorded in Marl, Hungary(see footnote), September 1975. ADD
DECCA ELOQUENCE 476 7693 [63.30]



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This is a disc for completists who have collected Dorati’s cycles of Haydn symphonies and operas and wish to supplement their collections. Provided you tackle this disc over several sessions and not straight through in a single sitting there is pleasant listening to be had. These readings are marvellously alive; Papa Haydn in his best dancing mood.

There is one other competing version. It’s on CPO but I have not heard it. This is played by Capella Istropolitana, long a mainstay of the various Naxos Baroque series. The same orchestra have also been involved in some very fine Haydn symphony recordings under Barry Wordsworth, so their performances should be well worth hearing. Those collectors who are knowledgeable about both projects will be able to predict the differences between the two renditions.

I am going to go for the current disc as a recommendation since, although the Capella Istropolitana are very good, they lack the sterling experience of the Dorati/Philharmonia Hungarica team. The other main difference is that the Capella Istropolitana is a chamber group whilst the Philharmonia Hungarica is a full-sized symphony orchestra, albeit sounding slightly smaller for this recording.

Haydn was a great humourist in music, and there is a very fine example of this in the minuets. No. 19 has a central section using percussion instruments. This made me laugh out loud. There is real entertainment to be had from this life-enhancing music.

Most of Haydn’s dance music was unknown until the 1930s when some of the minuets were uncovered by Otto Erich Deutsche and Ernst Fritz Schmid and published for the Redoutensaal in Vienna. The current set of 24 is derived from a set of manuscripts sourced from Haydn’s publishers Artaria & Co. Aloys Fuchs listed these minuets in his 1839 thematic catalogue where their entry reads: ‘XXIV Menuetten f. orchester Comp. In London 1791 – 1795’. It is probable that these minuets were produced after his London sojourns. This conclusion is supported by the orchestration, which features clarinets and trumpets. The style is that of the later masses. Haydn may well have produced the minuets for a Grand Ball at Eisenstadt in 1796 or 1797.

They are not like those found in the symphonies. Here there are no changes of tonality or other complications. They are out-and-out dance music written for pure pleasure. The orchestra and the conductor take on the task with utter and evident relish.

This is yet another example of the Australian arm of Universal picking out repertoire long unavailable elsewhere and now accessible at a crazy knock-down price; my last shipment came to £3.75 per disc. Even adding air freight costs these discs work out at just a few pence over £6.00 each.

Recording, presentation and notes are all first class and your enjoyment is guaranteed. Very highly recommended.

John Phillips

Footnote

I have noticed a wrong indication regarding the geographical location on the city of Marl, where Antal Dorati recorded 25 minuets by Joseph Haydn in September 1975. Marl is not a town in Hungary, but a town of the Ruhr region in Germany.

Among the refugees who fled Hungary after the 1956 Soviet invasion were hundreds of musicians. Eighty of them formed an orchestra in Vienna and struggled to get work. This refugee ensemble gathered together some of Hungary's finest musical talent and was directed by Zoltán Rozsnyai, an ex-conductor of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. After a difficult beginning in Vienna, the wealthy industrial city of Marl in Germany (a center of coal mining and chemical industry) gave the orchestra a residency from 1956 to 2001. Through the efforts of Antal Doráti, the Philharmonia Hungarica quickly matured into one of Europe's most distinguished orchestras. During the early 1970s, Dorati and the orchestra, under contract with Decca Records, made a canonical, world-first recording of the complete cycle of Haydn's symphonies. The reocrdings took place in the local church of St Boniface. At the final session, in December 1972, Dorati announced that they had sold half a million Haydn records.

I know that it´s only a small detail, but it has to do with music and recording history and it is better to avoid mistakes in a specialized web-site.

Very friendly yours,

Jean-Luc Malvache.

 



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