Haydn: Theresienmesse; Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Theresienmesse; Missa brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo
PERFORMER: Janice Watson (soprano), Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Stephen Varcoe (baritone); Collegium Musicum 90/Richard Hickox
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0592 DDD
People who see no future for the classical record industry now that all the worthwhile repertoire has been recorded many times should pause to consider the case of Haydn. Many of his finest works are represented in the catalogue by just two or three versions (of distinctly average quality) and there have yet – amazingly, considering the quality of the music – to be recordings of his six late masses on period instruments. Happily, Chandos has stepped into the breach: this superbly produced and recorded disc of the Theresienmesse (premiered in 1799) promises to be the first in a series. Collegium Musicum 90 comprises a younger generation of performers than some of the other British period-instrument groups, and has many strengths: the choir sings its words clearly and phrases the music persuasively, while the orchestral sound is well-suited to the euphonious scoring which features prominent clarinets and bassoons. All four soloists sing well, and Janice Watson makes a stylish contribution to the Benedictus of the Little Organ Mass. The obvious comparison is with The English Concert’s splendid 1992 recording of the Theresienmesse. The latter sounds more like a ‘period’ performance in its strong attack and keen sense of drama, though Hickox’s speeds are generally faster than Pinnock’s, and some listeners will prefer the richer sounds he produces from his smaller forces. Stephen Maddock

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