MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively AmazonUK

Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Missa in tempore belli, Hob.XXII:9 (1796) ‘Paukenmesse’ (Kettledrum Mass) [40:01]
Salve Regina, Hob.XXIIIb:2 (1771) [17:44]
Dorothea Röschmann (soprano)
Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo)
Herbert Lippert (tenor)
Oliver Widmer (bass-baritone)
Missa in angustiis (Mass in Straitened Times), Hob.XXII:11 (1798) ‘Nelsonmesse’ (Nelson Mass) [41:44]
Te Deum, Hob.XXIIIc:2 (1800) [9:35]
Luba Orgonasova (soprano)
Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo)
Doen van der Walt (tenor)
Alastair Miles (bass-baritone)
Missa, Hob.XXII:14 (1802) ‘Harmoniemesse’ (Wind-band Mass) [43:16]
Cantata ‘Qual dubbio ormai’, Hob.XXIVa:4 (1764) [15:06]
Te Deum, Hob.XXIIIc:1 (c. 1763) [7:33]
Eva Mei (soprano)
Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo)
Herbert Lippert (tenor)
Oliver Widmer (bass-baritone)
Stabat Mater, oratorio, Hob.XXbis (1767) [58:37]
Barbara Bonney (soprano)
Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo)
Herbert Lippert (tenor)
Alastair Miles (bass-baritone)
Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze, (The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross) oratorio, Hob.XX:2 (1796) [62:41]
Inga Nielsen (soprano)
Margareta Hintermeier (mezzo)
Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)
Robert Holl (bass-baritone)
Missa, Hob.XXII:13 ‘Schöpfungsmesse’ (Creation Mass) (1801) [42:07]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Magnificat, D.486 (1815) [9:09]
Christiane Oelze (soprano)
Elisabeth von Magnus (mezzo)
Herbert Lippert (tenor)
Gerald Finley (bass-baritone)
Intende voci, D.963 (1828) [11:58]
Herbert Lippert (tenor)
*Live recording
Arnold Schoenberg Chor,
Concentus musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
rec. July 1996, Pfarrkirche Stainz (CD1); June 1996, Casino Zögernitz, Vienna (CD2); July 1998, Pfarrkirche Stainz (CD3); July 1994, Pfarrkirche Stainz (CD4); October 1990, Casino Zögernitz, Vienna (CD5); July 1999, Pfarrkirche Stainz (CD6) DDD
Full texts provided with English translations.
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 69939-8 [6 CDs: 57:44 + 51:19 + 65:55 + 58:37 + 62:41 + 63:14]

What a marvellous treat to have this budget-priced six disc boxed set from Warner Classics. Here we have four of Haydn’s late masses and a selection of sacred music, including two works from Schubert, from a conductor with such eminent credentials as Nikolaus Harnoncourt. From my experience Harnoncourt, the period performance specialist, is one of those exceptional conductors whose performances always demand attention. The performances have all been issued previously on the Teldec Classics label. If I read the liner notes correctly the Paukenmesse on disc one and the three works on disc six were recorded live.
I have not studied these Haydn sacred works in detail for some years, not since I had my vinyl collection and it is good to revisit this selection of works once again. I no longer have my LPs but I have found my card index that lists the old vinyl copies of Haydn masses from my collection that I cut my teeth on: the Nelson Mass conducted by Leonard Bernstein on Columbia Masterworks; the Great Organ Mass; Missa Cellensis, Cäcilienmesse (St Cecilia Mass); Missa Sancti Nicolai (Nikolaimesse); Missa Brevis from Christopher Hogwood on L'Oiseau Lyre; Missa in tempore belliPaukenmesse’ from Rafael Kubelik on Heliodor; the ‘Harmoniemesse’ under Leonard Bernstein on Columbia and from Janos Ferencsik on Hungaroton; the ‘Theresienmesse’ under Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden on Harmonia Mundi; Neville Marriner on Eterna and Leonard Bernstein on CBS. A prized collection was a box set of the ‘Paukenmesse’; ‘Heiligmesse’; ‘Nelson Mass’; ‘Theresienmesse’; ‘Creation Mass’ and the ‘Harmoniemesse’ under George Guest and David Willcocks on Decca Argo.
The complete Hoboken Haydn catalogue lists fourteen masses that he composed between 1749 to 1802. The first eight masses in the Hoboken catalogue were composed over a thirty-three year span and from the end of that period in 1782 with the Missa Cellensis (Mariazeller Messe) Haydn did not compose any more masses for fourteen years.
The early masses from the period of 1749 to 1782 vary both in terms of length and weight of orchestral and choral forces. For example the Grosse Orgelmesse of 1774 is a substantial score that requires both French and English horns whilst the Missa Brevis (Kleine Orgelmesse) of 1778 was devised on a smaller dimension with lighter scoring for use at Eisenstadt monastery. In these early masses the orchestra rarely takes centre stage and on occasions one is conscious of the awkward employment of the music to the essence of the liturgical texts.
In 1794 Haydn made the association with Prince Nikolaus II of Esterhazy who had a considerable passion for sacred music. Haydn was assigned to write an annual mass for the birthday (name day) of Nikolaus’s wife the Princess Maria Hermenegild and the undertaking was the catalyst for the creation of the six late and great masses. In these late masses one notices Haydn’s increased dramatic power together with a greater intensity of sacred conviction. Sadly of these six late masses this Warner/Harnoncourt issue does not include both the Heiligmesse from 1796 and the Theresienmesse from 1799.
The opening work of the set is the Paukenmesse, Hob.XXII:9 from 1796 the first work Haydn composed to honour the name day (8th September) of the Princess Maria Hermenegild. The name of Paukenmesse’ (Kettledrum Mass) stems from the employment of timpani in the Agnus Dei; evocative of hearing the advance of the enemy. At the time of composition the French armies had occupied the state of Styria in southeast Austria.
In the Kyrie I loved the menacing introduction that Harnoncourt extorts from the trumpets and timpani. The creamy voice of soprano Dorothea Röschmann offers splendid piety and humility. At 5:16 the soloists Röschmann; Elisabeth von Magnus; Herbert Lippert and Oliver Widmer provide a particularly fine and moving ensemble. In the Gloria the Schoenberg Choir communicate gratitude and supplication with radiance and energy. From 2:54 the splendidly toned cello soloist is joined by bass-baritone Oliver Widmer in “Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.” In the Credo all four soloists and the Schoenberg Choir provide deep feeling and introspection in the “Et in unum dominum.” The brief Sanctus is urgently performed by Harnoncourt and in the Benedictus the superb soprano of Dorothea Röschmann stands out in this genial and humane declaration. The Agnus Dei is notable for the famous timpani solo together with prominent trumpet parts. The Concentus musicus Wien and the Schoenberg Choir powerfully communicate the climax with an ardently appealing “Dona nobis pacem.”
Scored for soloists, organ and strings Haydn’s three movement Salve Regina, Hob.XXIIIb:2 was composed in 1771. The Salve Regina is intended to be sung at the end of evening prayers between the period of Trinity Sunday and Advent.
I especially enjoyed the extended opening of the Salve Regina a movement permeated with strength and deep sincerity of feeling from Harnoncourt. Noticeable is Haydn’s employment of the concertante organ that adds additional colour and atmosphere. The final section Et Jesum provides a potency of spiritual character with the voices blending together marvellously.
Contained on disc two is Haydn’s Nelson Mass, Hob.XXII:11 from 1798. A dramatic score that is widely acknowledged as a masterwork and remains highly popular in choral concerts. The use of trumpets in the Benedictus is often said to commemorate Nelson’s victory over the French fleet at the Battle of the Nile. Another viewpoint is that the score was written to celebrate the visit of Nelson and Lady Hamilton to the Habsburg monarchy of Eisenstadt the seat of the Esterházy family.
In the Kyrie Harnoncourt provides robust energy overflowing with intense feeling. Bright and triumphant tones from the soloist, chorus and orchestra in the Gloria and in the Credo Harnoncourt directs a forthright and devout performance in this affecting proclamation of faith. The Sanctus comes across as a strong and sincere exclamation to the glory of God and in the Benedictus one notices the ceremonial feel owing to the martial nature of the trumpet fanfares. The Agnus Die that concludes the score is a poignant plea for mercy in that Harnoncourt and his forces communicate a reverent and noble character. Of the quartet of excellent soloists I must single out the soprano Luba Orgonasova who is in splendid voice.
Cast in a single movement and composed for Empress Maria Theresia, Haydn’s Te Deum, Hob.XXIIIc:2 is thought to have been amongst the works performed in 1800 during Nelson’s visit to Eisenstadt. The lavishly scored Te Deum contains some of Haydn’s most imposing sacred music. Harnoncourt directs with authority providing a persuasive performance that contains both nobility and veneration.

From disc three Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, Hob.XXII:14 or the Wind-band Mass is named owing to its considerable use of wind instruments in the scoring. From 1802 the Harmoniemesse is acknowledged by many as Haydn’s greatest mass and has been compared to Beethoven’s distinguished Missa Solemnis.
Harnoncourt’s reading of the Kyrie, the plea for God’s mercy, has an impressive spiritual exaltation and in the Gloria I loved the buoyant and uplifting declaration to the glory to God. In the Gratias section of the Gloria I found soprano Eva Mei’s engaging singing especially lucid and in the Quoniam section the spirited singing from the Schoenberg Choir contains an impressive penetration. Eva Mei’s singing is congenial and humane in the Et incarnatus of the Credo and the Schoenberg Choir are agile and imperious in the Et resurrexit. With Harnoncourt the Sanctus comes across as a poignant and ethereal statement to God’s glory and there is considerable passion and power in the Benedictus. Harnoncourt expertly contrasts the tender pleas for mercy of the Agnus Dei with the mighty outburst for universal harmony in the Dona nobis pacem. Here the jubilant and uplifting performance from Harnoncourt provides a most fitting conclusion to the mass. My attention was taken by the Concentus musicus Wien who provide spirited yet cultured playing that is sensitive throughout.
Designed in four movements the Cantata: Qual dubbio ormai (What doubt can there now be), Hob.XXIVa:4 originates from Haydn’s early years around 1763/64 at the Esterházy court. The score was performed in 1764 for the dual celebration of the name day of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy and also his elevation to the rank of Colonel of the Noble Hungarian Bodyguard.
The Qual dubbio ormai is a highly melodic and colourfully dramatic cantata with organ accompaniment. The soprano Eva Mei provides an excellent rendition of the aria Se ogni giorno, Prence invitto and the score ends with a deeply felt performance from Schoenberg Choir.

Cast in three sections the Te deum, Hob.XXIIIc:1 also originates from Haydn’s early years at the Esterházy court. It is thought that the score was first performed in 1763 at Eisenstadt and then appears to have been totally disregarded until a revival over two hundred years later in 1967.
The short score opens with a Te Deum laudamus featuring the tenor of Herbert Lippert who despite evident enthusiasm displays a degree of unsteadiness. In the final section Æterna fac cum sanctis tuis the soloists are joined by the Schoenberg Choir to impart a reading of vitality and spirit under Harnoncourt’s marvellously alive direction.
Taking up all the space on disc four and lasting almost an hour is Haydn’s substantial oratorio the Stabat Mater, Hob.XXbis from 1767 and cast in fourteen sections. The composition of the Stabat Mater came about as a result of the death of Gregor Joseph Werner the court conductor at Esterházy in 1766. Haydn was appointed as Werner’s successor and was able to compose the score in his memory.
Harnoncourt is typically incisive with the grief-stricken opening section the Stabat Mater dolorosa. I found the O quam tristis et afflicta sorrowful and affecting, where the extended mezzo-soprano aria from Elisabeth von Magnus is quite excellent and a highlight of the score. Soprano Barbara Bonney is pure and sorrowful in the Quis non posset; bass-baritone Alastair Miles is striking in his sombre aria Pro peccatis suae gentis and the deeply anguished tenor aria Vidit suum dulcem Natum is splendidly done by Herbert Lippert. In the Sancta Mater, istud agas the creamy tones of Barbara Bonney blends wonderfully with the timbre of Herbert Lippert and the solemn and tormented mourning in the extended aria Fac me vere tecum flere aptly displays the rounded characterisation of Elisabeth von Magnus. In the Flammis orci ne succendar Alastair Miles is brisk and robust proclaiming the awful day of judgement and contrasts superbly with the beseeching tones of Herbert Lippert in the Fac me cruce custodiri. Elisabeth von Magnus and Barbara Bonney are joined by the Schoenberg chorus in the Quando corpus morietur in a performance that develops into full blooded drama. In the concluding section the Schoenberg Choir are joined by the quartet of soloists to thrillingly proclaim the glory of paradise.
Disc five contains Haydn’s oratorio The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross, Hob.XX:2. Originally commissioned by the Canon of Cadiz Cathedral in Spain to compose instrumental music on The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross. It was intended for the work to be performed during Lent as an aid to meditation during Holy Week. The 1796 oratorio The Seven Last Words is one of Haydn’s most spiritual and sublime compositions; a musical proclamation of Haydn’s affirmation of his Catholic faith in God. The seven slow movements (Adagios) are sometimes referred to as ‘sonatas’ or ‘meditations’ and are intended to reflect the final utterances of Jesus on Mount Calvary.
Harnoncourt’s performance of Haydn’s hidden masterpiece The Seven Last Words is quite masterly in all respects. The quartet of singers: soprano Inga Nielsen; mezzo-soprano Margareta Hintermeier; tenor Anthony Rolf Johnson and bass-baritone Robert Holl are splendidly chosen and well contrasted too. Remarkable is how the quartet produce such a superbly focused tone of exceptional smoothness with a wonderful purity that really draws the listener into the music. The period forces of Concentus musicus Wien makes for increased transparency with noticeable fine detail. Harnoncourt’s interpretation of The Seven Last Words is inspired and his forces play with great concentration and atmosphere.
The main work on disc six is Haydn’s Schöpfungsmesse (Creation Mass), Hob.XXII:13 from 1801. The mass takes its name from the melody that Haydn borrows from his 1798 oratorio The Creation. The composer Johann Adam Hiller was of the opinion that the Schöpfungsmesse was Haydn’s greatest work.
In the opening section the Kyrie - Adagio Harnoncourt communicates a peaceful and conciliatory tone and the following Allegro moderato comes across as a compelling and forceful supplication for God’s mercy. The Gloria is an uplifting and buoyant invocation for compassion and in the elaborate Quoniam the Schoenberg Choir is in remarkable voice and Harnoncourt makes a persuasive adjuration for God’s mercy in the Credo. In the Et incarnatus there is an effective employment of the organ and splendid contributions from both tenor Herbert Lippert and bass-bar Gerald Finley who combine together impressively with the chorus. Harnoncourt in the Et resurrexit directs a brisk and ardent interpretation with considerable power and surging drama and both the Sanctus and Benedictus sections come across as profound displays of thoughts and feelings. The superb musicianship of Harnoncourt’s direction shines brightly in both the Agnus Dei a poignant and tender imploration for God’s mercy and also in the closing Dona nobis pacem where the masses forces beseech God to Grant us Peace.
Divided into three sections Schubert’s Magnificat, D.486 is a hymn for the Virgin Mary. The score comes from 1815 a productive year that Schubert wrote some hundred and fifty songs. Harnoncourt is inspired in the opening Magnificat anima mea Dominum the Virgin Mary’s praise of God and provides an insightful reading in the lighter scored Deposuit potentes de sede that offers thanksgiving for God’s action to mankind. The closing section the jubilant Gloria Patri is inspiring with a celestial performance from the Schoenberg Choir.
The final work on the set is Schubert’s Intende voci, D.963 that was composed in 1828; the year of his death. The single movement Intende voci is one of three short sacred works that Schubert composed that year setting three lines taken from the fifth Psalm. Throughout the score Harnoncourt provides a convincingly impassioned plea for God’s help. This is a remarkable sacred episode from the Schoenberg Choir and the single soloist tenor Herbert Lippert.
With regard to alternative versions of the six late Haydn masses I greatly admire the dramatic and cultured period instrument versions of the: Paukenmesse; Heiligmesse; Nelson Mass; Theresienmesse; Schöpfungsmesse and Harmoniemesse from Sir John Eliot Gardiner with the English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. The three disc set was released in 2003 on Philips 475 101-2.
For those collectors wanting alternative versions of the Haydn Heiligmesse; Theresienmesse; Paukenmesse and Nelson Mass I can highly recommend the powerful and imaginative 1994/96 Bad Tölz, Bavarian accounts on period instruments from Tafelmusik and Tölzer Knabenchor under Bruno Weil on Sony Classical SB2K90379.
One outstanding performance that deserves special praise is the account of the Haydn Paukenmesse from Helmuth Rilling and the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester and Gächinger Kantorei Stuttgart. Recommendable in every way Rilling’s reading is a powerful visionary experience that was recorded to demonstration standard at Stadthalle Leonberg, Germany in 1992 on Hänssler Classic 98.981. c/w Cherubini Missa Solenne No.2 in D minor (1811, rev. 1822).
Throughout this Warner Classics six disc set one remains impressed with Harnoncourt’s tightly controlled direction of his magnificent forces, employing tempi that always feel appropriate. The sound quality is of a high standard as is the interesting and informative annotation. A valuable set of Haydn sacred music that is perfect for dipping in and out.
Michael Cookson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.