Five essential works by Haydn
We choose the best pieces by the master of rhetoric
Symphony No. 103, ‘Drumroll’
Of his last dozen symphonies written for London visits, the Drumroll is an excellent introduction to Haydn’s playful style – from portentous to ebullient in a heartbeat.
Concertgebouw Orchestra/Colin Davis
Philips 442 6112
String Quartets, Op. 33
Recognised as Haydn’s finest set of string quartets, these include one nicknamed ‘The Bird’ for its birdsong-like first violin part and another, ‘The Joke’, so-named for reasons evident in the finale.
Arcana A 414
Haydn’s genius transformed this martial instrument into an eloquent and charming soloist, both in the inspired slow movement and in the sparkling finale.
Alison Balsom; German Chamber Philharmonic, Bremen
EMI 216 2130
Haydn’s vivid musical portrait of the Biblical creation story up to the creation of Adam and Eve is direct yet charmingly apt.
Gabrieli Consort & Players/Paul McCreesh
DG Archiv 477 7361
The dramatic military-style rhythms which open this Mass reflect the Napoleonic War raging while Haydn composed. Otherwise, it’s charming and upbeat, even if the baleful opening returns in the ‘Benedictus’.
Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox
Chandos CHAN 0640