Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809)
Missa Brevis in F, Hob. XXII:1 (1749) [11:49]
Missa, “Harmoniemesse” in B-flat, Hob. XXII:14 (1802) [40:30]
Ann Hoyt, Julie Liston, Nacole Palmer, Nina Faia (sopranos); Kristen
Sollek (alto); Daniel Mutlu, Matthew Hensrud (tenors); Richard Lippold,
Andrew Nolen (basses); Trinity Choir
Rebel Baroque Orchestra/J. Owen Burdick, Jane Glover
rec. Trinity Church, New York, 23-24 May 2001 and 5-6 September,
NAXOS 8.572126 [52:28]
Although it is for his instrumental music, primarily symphonies,
string quartets and works for solo piano that Josef Haydn is
most known, he was quite given to writing for voices and left
behind a sizeable output of operas, twelve authenticated masses
and numerous other settings of sacred texts for choir, soloists
and orchestra. This program gives us his first and last words
in the mass genre, one by an exuberant boy of seventeen the
other by a tired and weary old man, although one could never
discern the composer’s fatigue by listening to the music.
The Missa Brevis in F is a little gem of economy, with Haydn
sailing through the wordy Credo in under three minutes, a feat
he accomplished by stacking phrases of the text on top of one
another and distributing them throughout the voice parts. The
unusual scoring for only two solo voices, both sopranos might
have been a vehicle for he and his brother Michael, though it
does stretch belief a bit to think of a seventeen year old with
an unchanged voice.
The Harmoniemesse is one of Haydn’s final works, written for
the birthday celebrations of the Esterhazy Princess in 1802.
The composer soon took his leave of the Esterhazy family after
decades of service and although he lived another seven years,
he did little composing after this period. There is no evidence
in this joyful and exuberant mass that Haydn was at all ill.
In fact, his later masses have been criticized over the years
for their joyous optimism, and sometimes overly upbeat settings
of the more reflective and serious parts of the texts. Be that
as it may, this is a masterpiece, beautifully augmented by the
full complement of wind instruments that give the mass its nickname
These are performances of divinely understated elegance. Singing
from the choir is dead in tune and beautifully balanced. Phrases
are splendidly shaped and tempo choices are spot on. The Trinity
Choir is full of fine soloists, and there is some magnificent
singing from sopranos Ann Hoyt and Julie Liston is the Missa
Brevis. The Rebel Baroque Orchestra is a tight band of precision
players. The clarity of their playing, especially in fast passages
is without flaw. The one and only defect in this production
is the lack of texts and translations in the booklet. The program
notes are informative and interesting and not loaded with blow
by blow descriptions of the music.
These are performances of almost text-book perfection and will
be a delight to any lover of choral music. With really nothing
to criticize, I can say nothing more but go add this fine recording
to your library.
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