Haydn: London Symphony & Harmoniemesse

Haydn: ‘London’ Symphony 99 & Harmoniemesse
Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers
Coro 6176. 68’24

Haydn’s Symphony No. 99 in E major is one of his twelve ‘London’ symphonies. Although it was composed in Vienna in 1793, its first performance was in London in 1794 at the Hanover Square Rooms during Haydn’s second London visit. It is his first use of clarinets in a symphony. The woodwind plays a key role, as they do in the Harmoniemesse, the Mass in B-flat major. That name, given after Haydn’s death, refers not to any idea of harmony, but to the use of the Harmonie, the German name for a wind band. With similar instrumentation, these two pieces make for an obvious pairing on the recording from the Boston based Handel and Haydn Society. Continue reading

The Old Colony Collection

The Old Colony Collection
Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, Harry Christophers
Coro COR16145. 69’35

Music by James Kent, Thomas Linley, Charles Avison, Samuel Chapple, Samuel Webbe, Handel Mozart, and Mendelssohn.

The Old Colony CollectionThe Handel and Haydn Society Chorus of Boston was formed in 1815 and is the oldest still performing arts organisation in the US. It was formed to ‘improve the style of performing sacred music’ and to introduce the music of its titular composers. Interestingly their quest to perform the ‘old and the new’ actually referred to Handel as the former and Haydn as the latter. It was not all education and graft though – in his introductory note, Harry Christophers mentions that ‘inspiring libations to be had and membrers were often seen heading downstairs for a break’ – a practice referred to as ‘tuning’!

During last year’s Bicentennial, some of their early music publications came to light, one being The Old Colony Collection, its crumbling leather Continue reading

Haydn: Symphony 7 & 83, Violin Concerto in C

Haydn: Symphony 7 & 83, Violin Concerto in C
Handel and Haydn Society, Aisslinn Nosky, violin, Harry Christophers
Coro COR 16139. 74’24

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 7 & 83 & Violin Concerto in C majorAlthough Bach is something of a God-like figure for me, I think he would be rather scary to actually meet. I have often felt that I would love to have sat at a nearby table where I could overhear Bach, but would rather actually meet and converse with Haydn. The pieces on this CD demonstrate something of those aspects of Haydn’s character that make him appear so approachable. Amongst the first works that Haydn wrote after his 1761 arrival at the Esterházy court were the three symphonies based on the times of the day – Le main, Le midi and Le soir. Many players in the orchestra were already friends of his from Vienna, and these three symphonies were an inspired calling card for their new musical director, with most of the players given key solo moments. Continue reading