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(23 December – 5 January)
Early London symphonies
A magnificent beginning with the Symphony No. 93, a personal favourite, sets the pace for two near neighbours. The drum rolls in Fey's recording come across more convincingly than in John-Elliott Gardiner's recordings of similar material. A big sound is the result, with no editing glitches. Here, Haydn's use of rhythm shows his influence on Beethoven's work.
A good length as current recordings tend to the 80-minute limit. There are appropriate lengthy pauses in between the 3 symphonies to give the listener a chance to take stock.
Haydn was the finest symphonist of his day and this recording stands up well to Adam Fisher's newly released Mozart symphonies. I actually prefer to listen to this one.
A Worthy Album of Interest
Let's be clear right off the bat: we're not talking here about undiscovered masterpieces by a lost contemporary of Mozart. But Kozeluch's music is interesting, lively, and worth anyone's time of day. At its best, one can imagine Mozart wishing he had written it. A good example is the opening movement of the G Minor. It's the same key as Mozart's famous # 40, and Kozeluch's music here is strong enough to invite comparison with the more well-known masterpiece without in any way being a pale imitation.
So this album is enjoyable, well worth dipping into, and certainly stands up well to repeated hearings. For that, much thanks is due to the nimble, sprightly, well-articulated music-making of the London Mozart Players under the distinguished and thoughtful direction of Matthias Bamert. Chandos as usual have provided top-drawer sound that shows the music's best side without drawing undue attention to itself. In sum, certainly something for lovers of Mozart and Haydn to investigate.
Jean-François Couperin’s organ masses are summits of elder French Organ Music. Depending on the situation the pieces could be used during a liturgical act or between the texts of the service. They are varied – from more intimate parts to extraordinarily magnificent ones, whereas the second mass is a little bit more restrained due to its dedication. (For abbreviation I refer to the “Messe à l'usage ordinaire des paroisses pour les fêtes solemnelles” as “1st mass” and to the “Messe propre pour les couvents de religieux et religieuses” as “2nd mass”).
The organ of the Poitiers Cathedral is built by François-Henri Cliquot. It belongs to the very best organs of France. It possesses excellent stops of reeds – listen to the second part of the Kyrie of the 1st mass (“Fugue sur les jeux d’anches”). In order to find out the huge spectrum of sounds of this organ, listen to the “Offertoire sur les grands jeux” of the same mass.
Jean-Baptiste Robin, who is one of the two organists of the cathedral, masters the masses in a splendid manor. Listen again to to the “Offertoire sur les grands jeux” of the 1st mass. In my opinion this is the summit of the whole recording. It’s remarkable, how Robin establishes and then maintains the tension over the whole nearly 9 minutes of this part.
I should not forget to mention the booklet which - while small - contains all the necessary information on the two masses, the organ, the interpreter, and the recording. Its main part is written by Jean-Baptiste Robin himself. It’s added in the form of a pdf file.
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