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


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



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Michael HAYDN (1732-1806)
Orchestral works
CD 1: Symphony No. 33 in B major (MH 425/Perger 24) (1786) [21.28]; Symphony No. 19 in D major (MH 198/Perger 11) (1774) [20.59]; Symphony No. 29 in D minor (MH 393/Perger 20) (1784) [16.20]; Symphony No. 24 in A major (MH302)/Perger 15 (1781) [18.11]
CD 2: Sinfonia in F major (c.1760) MH25 [10.43]; Symphony No. 14 in Bb major (c.1769) (MH 133 Perger 52) [14.00]; Symphony No. 17 in E major (MH151/Perger 44) (1776) [19.22]; Symphony No. 40 in F major *(MH 507/Perger 32) (1789) [15.09]; Symphony No. 41* in A major (MH 508) (Perger 33) [12.23]; March in F* (MH421/Perger 59) (1786) [2.28]; March in *D (MH515/Perger 64) (1787) [2.01]; March in D* (MH 441/Perger 62) (1787) [2.41]
Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss/Frank Beermann and Johannes Goritzki*
rec. Zeughaus Neuss, 19-23 December 2004 (CD 1); 1994/2003/2004 (CD 2). DDD
CPO 777 137-2 [77.00 + 78.54]

Experience Classicsonline
The forgotten brother? The underrated genius? Some have said so. Indeed there are some fine works, like the Requiem which are only now gradually being discovered. This double CD offers a further opportunity to test Michael’s mettle with nine of the symphonies and three short marches.

I decided to listen to the symphonies in the numbered order although there are other numbering systems as indicated. In fact I started with CD 2 with the unnumbered Sinfonia in F major - incidentally in the booklet listings they are called ‘Symphony’ but the notes call each ‘Sinfonia’. This Sinfonia is scored for the usual strings but with two oboes and two horns like other later ones. It has been dated, according to the notes by Michael Malkiewicz, to c.1760. It is brief, consisting of four movements, as do several of the other symphonies. An Andante is placed second and the Menuetto is third. The finale is a lively Rondo. In truth the Andante is really a slow minuet. It’s interesting to consider that at the same date Joseph Haydn may well not have written a symphony at all. His so-called Symphony No. 1 seems to date from not earlier than 1761 and is just a three movement work but with a more developed first movement. It would be wonderful to know which brother’s symphony really came first or which first wrote one in four movements. On both counts Michael - who was the younger by five years - can be judged the instigator. Anyway I will pick out several further highlights.

From the end of the 1760s comes the Bb Symphony, No. 14. This is in three movements and adds two further horns. It is also rather singular in that its second movement seems to have accidently strayed from a missing bassoon concerto being subtitled ‘Concertino per il Fagotto’. This elegant music has more than a whiff of J.C. Bach about it and comes complete with a gentle cadenza all played most stylishly by Klaus Liebetrau. The finale is a Minuet and Trio which Malkiewicz says is “unusual” but which can be found ending some early symphonies of brother Joseph’s symphonies: No. 4 in D.

In truth, for much of its course, the Symphony No. 17 does not seem to be much of a piece. The first two movements were taken from a five act tragedy the composer had written for a Benedictine University some five years earlier. It’s not until the wistful flute writing of the Minuet’s trio that some real character appears and again in a Mozartean Rondo finale of great liveliness and charm.

Moving to CD 1 we come to the Symphony No. 19 which is also in four movements. This has the longest first movement of any of these and has a delightful slow movement featuring some delicious flute writing. The Minuet with its minor key trio emphasises contrasting dynamics with subito p/f markings. The finale is again a Rondo. This symphony could easily be seen by any student as a template for the form as a whole.

Looking at the Symphony No. 24 in A major we take an opportunity to consider Haydn’s use of sonata-form, or as he would have known it, first movement form. By this date (1781) it is fairly clear and textbook. The movement is in Michael’s favoured 3/4 time opening with a ‘fanfaring’ idea contrasted with a quieter more lyrical second subject, here in the subdominant. The development section moves between the relative minor and various major keys but is quite short. One of the things that Joseph Haydn was to achieve was the enlargement of this development section in his later symphonies. Michael’s recap brings back the ideas in order but with some development and change to the first subject before a lengthy and satisfactory coda ensues. It’s all accomplished in just over five minutes. The middle movements feature wind, oboes, flutes and horns - see later in review for words on wind instruments. These are also prominent in the rather earnest fugal finale which brings the work to a fine ending.

When I first heard the three movement Symphony No. 29 in D minor, the only one in minor key, I thought immediately of Michael’s brother Joseph’s ‘Sturm und Drang’ symphonies of the previous decade. I was then quite surprised to read that it had been written for a New Year’s greeting for the Archbishop of Salzburg. In fairness the middle movement is a charming Andantino but the outer ones are a nervous Allegro and a surprisingly brash ‘Presto Scherzandi’. This work makes an interesting contrast to those around it.

Michael’s Symphony No. 33 in Bb major - which opens CD2 - is the longest of these nine and is more the length of those of his brother Joseph. This is only because in 1797, eleven years after its completion, Michael had added a Minuet and Trio quite in stylistic keeping with the rest. This is a celebratory work and includes parts for timpani, horns (quite dominant in the first movement) and woodwind especially bassoon and oboe which have some quite exacting articulation to cope with in the Rondo finale. The development section of the first movement is the most interesting of any in the symphonies.

The Symphony No. 40 is in three movements so has no minuet. The outer ones are quite animated and exciting. For the middle one, the conductor, who for this work was Johannes Goritzki, decided to mute the violins, quite effectively as it turned out. The rather serious portrait of Michael Haydn in the booklet seems to belie the overall cheerful quality of his music.

For a little game with musical friends you could ask “What has Michael Haydn specifically got in common with Mozart”. Well actually there are at least two things; one is that they both worked in Salzburg; another however is that they both completed 41 Symphonies. The Symphony No. 41 is in a sprightly three movements. Furthermore the finales of both are fugal. What is especial curious in Haydn’s case is that he lived on for another seventeen years without tackling the form again. The woodwind writing here and especially again for the bassoon brings me to mention that the German Chamber Orchestra of Neuss play on modern instruments and that includes the wind; perhaps that bothers you a little. I rather wish at times that the balance between the strings and wind was more clear. I do enjoy those raunchy ‘authentic’ horns that period ensembles can produce and the wistful, yet piercing wooden flutes, yet this band shows considerable period awareness both in phrasing and tempi and have made a speciality over recent years of 18th century music both in the recording studio and in concert. Both conductors are experienced also in this style and period.

The three (of eleven extant) Marches at the end of CD 2 do little more than “make up the numbers” as it were. Our understanding of Michael Haydn is not especially enhanced by them. Indeed, in their place, CPO might easily have placed one more of the earliest symphonies. Nevertheless the marches have a certain charm and each is differently scored, the third for as big a band as possibly could be assembled: strings with many winds.

With few reservations then, this is a highly recommendable set, beautifully played and recorded. It offers a useful opening into a world of 18th century symphonic music not crowned by especial genius but by everyday charm and down-to-earth musical intelligence.

Gary Higginson



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.