songs were composed during his second visit to London in 1794-5;
surely a dangerous time to cross the Channel?. As can be seen
they received a great contribution from Anne Hunter, the wife
of an eminent London surgeon, Sir John Hunter. Haydn is especially
good in these settings at rendering the effects suggested
by the subject matter - thus the "sea" songs have
surging swelling accompaniments and introductions. The more
pastoral songs have a suitably rural atmosphere.
These songs or
early lieder are
given sympathetic and, where needed, rousing readings from
James Griffett. Apart from this re-issue, not many are featured
in the current catalogue and thus this recital is most welcome.
Griffett has a light pleasing tenor voice, here most aptly
and considerately accompanied by Bradford Tracey, the one
complementing the other. The fortepiano adds to the performances
as it is nicely muted but so much as to seem backward. It
thus blends well with the voice and is unlikely by its very
nature to overpower the singer. This is of importance as the
performers during the late 1790s would accompany themselves;
indeed it is said that Haydn himself did. Haydn, as we know,
was much admired by Georgian society of its day. He moved
in the upper echelons; surgeons were more respected then!
Mrs. Anne Hunter continued to write until he left England
for what he protested (and rightly) would be for the last
time in 1795.
As can be seen,
these are all re-issues from an album now nearly 24 years
old, which probably accounts for the rather short measure
when compared with total playing times we normally find on
CDs. But don't let this put you off; this is a budget priced
disc in the admirable Apex series which has impressed by both
its content and sound quality. There is no mention here of
any re-mastering from the original, so one must assume that
adherence to the LP masters is maintained. The delightful
performances do full justice to the music. Haydn was ever
one to entrance and delight via his lighter and more intimate
compositions. Here we have cases in point and in plenty.
is true and faithful in all respects with a good balance obtained
between the soloist and the piano. The sound is clear with
just the right amount of echo and "space". The booklet,
again in common with others in this series, has a translation
of the main subject-matter into German and French, whilst
the words of the songs are reproduced in English.
is then a collection of songs in the most charming of manners.
If you wish to make acquaintance with an unusual aspect of
Haydn, you will not be disappointed. The only caveat
is that these days one could have wished for the disc
to have offered more music.