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Haydn à la anglaise
Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
The fleeting hours, ballad (duet) (after H I,74/4) [1:14]
Morning, ballad (after H I,53/2) [2:05]
Love in Return, song (after H XXVIa,16) [3:20]
Sailor's Song, canzonetta (H XXVIa,31) [2:32]
Thomas HAIGH (1769-1850)
Rondo No. 1 (after H XXVIa,31) [4:20]
Franz Joseph HAYDN
Too late, Mother, song (after H XXVIa,12) [2:38]
An old story, song (after H XXVIa,4) [2:39]
Contentment, song (after H XXVIa,20) [2:12]
The manley Heart, song (after H XXVIa,6) [4:03]
Youth and Beauty, ballad (after H I,77/4) [2:57]
The Comforts of Inconstancy, song (after H XXVIa,16) [2:43]
Sonata No. 1: Aria con Variazione [3:33]
Franz Joseph HAYDN
Werter's Sonnet, ballad (after H III,23/1) [2:25]
The Knotting Song, song (after H XXVIa,1) [5:11]
Peace and Content, ballad (after H III,41/4) [1:49]
My Mother bids me bind my Hair (A Pastoral Song),
canzonetta (H XXVIa,27)
Rondo No. 3 (after H XXVIa,27) [5:22]
Franz Joseph HAYDN
Molly Carr, song (after H XXVIa,10) [3:55]
Evening, ballad (after H I,73/2) [2:57]
Life is a Dream, song (after H XXVIa,21) [3:29]
Café Mozart (Emma Kirkby (soprano), Rogers Covey-Crump (tenor),
Jenny Thomas (transverse flute), Ian Gammie (guitar), Alastair Ross
(square piano))/Derek McCulloch
rec. 7 - 9 June 2011, Rycote Chapel near Thame, Oxfordshire, UK.
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI6174 [62:31]
One of the features of the last decades of the 18th century
was the flowering of the music printing business. It took profit
from the increasing popularity of music-making among the affluent
parts of the middle class. As a result there was a huge demand
for music to be sung and played in the intimacy of the private
home or in social gatherings. Obviously music-loving citizens
would like to have access to the music by the most famous masters
of their time. Earlier in the 18th century it was Handel who
was the hottest composer in Britain. By the end of the century
he had been supplanted by Haydn – the dominant force in European
music. When he was invited to visit England his friend Mozart
advised against it, saying that he didn't speak the language.
Haydn replied, “My language is understood everywhere”. He was
referring to his music, and he was right.
The title of this disc suggests that we get here some of the
music which Haydn composed during his stays in England. That
is not the case. What is offered is some of the music which
was printed in London, in particular by Longman & Broderip,
well before Haydn's first visit to London in 1791. Two
collections of German songs which Haydn had published in 1781
and 1784 were printed with either English translations of the
original German text or with new texts which had little or nothing
to do with the original. In addition two collections with ballads
were printed which were based on melodies from Haydn's
music which seemed suitable to be turned into songs. Among them
are movements from symphonies and string quartets. The third
category tackled by this disc involves three keyboard pieces
by Thomas Haigh. His two rondos are from a much later date as
they are based on two of the Canzonettas which Haydn composed
in England. Thjey were printed in 1794 and 1795. The two rondos
are preceded by the canzonettas on which they are based. These
are the only original Haydn pieces included in the programme.
One may conclude that this is a highly original disc with repertoire
probably never recorded before. From the liner-notes by Derek
McCulloch one can gather that a lot of effort has been invested
in this project. The connections between the arrangements and
the originals are given in the booklet. There is much background
information about the new texts with which Haydn's music
was underlaid. This way an interesting picture is given about
domestic music life in the last decades of the 18th century
in London. A couple of comments need to be made.
The material isn't always performed as it was printed.
The fact that some liberties have been taken in adding instrumental
introductions to the songs - in particular by the flute - is
fair enough. It will certainly reflect the way the material
was treated at the time. The flute was a very popular instrument
among amateurs. But McCulloch also decided to change the texts,
for various reasons. In some cases Haydn set words which were
German translations of original English poems. The English arrangers
were not aware of that, and translated them back, as it were.
In some cases McCulloch decided to use the original, although
these had to be adapted in several cases to fit the music. In
some songs he thought the adaptation of the German original
wasn't good enough and made his own. In his comment on
Too late, Mother (an adaptation of Die zu späte
Ankunft der Mutter) he writes that "[the] original
text was too risqué for William Shield [the arranger], who substituted
it with a blander text An invocation to Venus".
McCulloch, who apparently missed the original content, provided
his own translation. In another work, Peace and Content,
he decided to combine the text of one adaptation with the musical
material of another.
This may make sense from a strictly musical point of view, but
as those who have read previous reviews from my pen know I tend
to assess recordings from a predominantly historical angle.
From that perspective I am not that happy with these decisions.
It may be true that - as McCulloch writes - several English
texts are 'distortions' of the originals, but
they give a true picture of performance practice of the late
18th century, and the way the growing market of amateur musicians
was served. Why should this picture be adapted to modern taste?
Nobody would ever think to do so with a picture in the National
Gallery. I strongly believe that it is always better to stick
to what has come down to us from history. If we don't
like it, we can always decide not to perform it.
That said, I have greatly enjoyed what is offered here. The
performances are stylish and creative, and the singing and playing
is mostly very good. Emma Kirkby has lost nothing of her interpretational
skills; nor has Rogers Covey-Crump. During his career the latter
has sung many parts for a high tenor. It is notable that in
particular in his high register a nervous wobble creeps in.
When he has to sing forte his voice becomes a little unstable.
The use of a square piano underlines the character of the repertoire
as being intended for domestic use. The involvement of a guitar
reflects more the practice in Germany than in Britain, as McCulloch
admits. "If that brings an à l'allemande
element into proceedings, then this is not totally inappropriate,
given the significant number of first and second generation
Germans in the musical and cultural life of England at the end
of the 18th century". That is one way to put it. The argument
that the harp - which was an alternative to the keyboard among
English middle class families - is absent from Café Mozart is
less convincing. As far as I know there are various fine specialists
of the historical harp in Britain. I can hardly believe that
none of them would have liked to participate in this project.
One last item: in the canzonetta My mother bids me bind
my hair, also known as A Pastoral Song, Ms Kirkby
sings "'Tis sad to think the days are past"
instead of "the days are gone". This way the line
"I sit upon this mossy stone" fails to rhyme. What
is the reasoning behind this change? In Emma Kirkby's
recent recording of Haydn songs (Brilliant Classics) she sings
the text as it is written and printed in the booklet.
Johan van Veen
John Sheppard also listened
to this disc
Although Haydn first visited England in
1791 he was well known there long before that. Publishers were
understandably eager to take advantage of this, and the two sets
of songs that Haydn published in Vienna in 1781 and 1784 provided
a suitable opportunity. The composer William Shield (1748-1829)
adapted the first set in 1786 as “Twelve Ballads” and the second
was adapted by an anonymous editor in 1789. Extracts from both
sets are included here, with verses whose relationship with the
original verse is at times remote. Samuel Arnold (1740-1802) produced
a set of “Twelve Ballads” in 1787 which differ from the others
in being vocal arrangements of instrumental movements. Again there
are examples here, including the last movements of Symphonies
Nos. 74 and 77, the second movement of Symphony No. 53, and two
movements from string quartets. These alone would probably make
the disc an irresistible curiosity to any Haydn enthusiast but
that is guaranteed by the inclusion of three piano pieces by Thomas
Haigh, a student of Haydn in 1791-2. These comprise two Rondos
based on two of Haydn’s English Canzonettas, also included
here, and a set of variations based loosely on the second movement
of Symphony No. 53 which is also the basis for one of the Ballads.
Admittedly Haigh’s pieces serve more to show by comparison just
how good a composer Haydn was, but they are interesting as further
proof of the latter’s impact on the English musical scene.
All of this music was essentially intended for the well-to-do
domestic market and very properly it is sung and played accordingly,
albeit with a technical security and panache that you would probably
have been very lucky to encounter in their intended settings.
The two singers make the most of the words, and whilst they are
printed in the booklet their admirable diction makes this unnecessary
for most of the time. Three accompanying instruments – square
piano (from c1798), guitar and flute – are used, thus ensuring
ample variety of tone. Admirable booklet notes by Derek McCulloch
from which I have drawn much of the above information set the
scene clearly for the listener.
It would be idle to regard the contents of this disc as much more
than a very entertaining curiosity; something is lost in almost
every case from Haydn’s originals. Nonetheless it becomes immediately
clear just why the English took so enthusiastically to his music.
It simply “works” so well in its new context. This is one of those
discs that fills admirably a gap you probably never knew was there,
and which, for me at least, is likely to be one I will return
to often for sheer pleasure in its innocent music-making.