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Haydn News

Hannah Morrison (soprano), Johanna Seitz (harp); Nuovo Aspetto (Prospero)

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Haydn News – Chamber Music arrangements: Symphony No. 60 ‘Le Distrait’; Concertino, Hob.II etc.
Hannah Morrison (soprano), Johanna Seitz (harp); Nuovo Aspetto
Prospero PROSP0017   54:23 mins


Shut away serving the Esterházy family for most of his middle years, Haydn depended on published editions of his scores to spread his name throughout Europe – and maybe as much on arrangements for ad hoc chamber groupings that amateurs could play in their homes. Founded in 2011, Nuovo Aspetto is the kind of ensemble that might have got together in an 18th century Viennese salon: comprising flute, harp, lute, salterio (a popular kind of hammered dulcimer) and string trio.

Drawn from incidental music for a play, Haydn’s eccentric six-movement Symphony No. 60 is heard here in an arrangement for just harp, salterio, violin, viola and cello, made by a Salzburg colleague of Michael Haydn, Father Meingosias Gaelle. One might have thought this too exiguous a line-up to convey the force of a score that includes oboes, horns, trumpets and timpani as well as strings. Yet thanks to the more incisive, wiry timbre of the 18th century harp, as compared to the modern instrument, and the vigorous period playing of the string trio in a focused, forward recorded acoustic, surprisingly little of the work’s spirit is lost.

The four-movement Concertino in G major is a partly reconstructed arrangement of a divertimento only recently identified as by Haydn. Here the main thread is sustained by the lute played by the ensemble’s director Michael Dücker, joined by flute and string trio. The programme is framed by two of Haydn’s Welsh folksong arrangements and a French air on a tune pirated from his Symphony No. 53, brightly sung by Hannah Morrison.


Bayan Northcott