Haydn: Die Jahreszeiten

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Die Jahreszeiten
PERFORMER: Krisztina Laki (soprano), Helmut Wildhaber (tenor), Peter Lika (bass); Choir of Flanders Opera, La Petite Bande/Sigiswald Kuijken
CATALOGUE NO: VBD 5 61564 2 Reissue (1992)
Together with its mighty predecessor The Creation, The Seasons (1801) represents the summation of Haydn’s long compositional and human experience, and in it he brings together a variety of techniques to celebrate the attractions of rural life and its yearly round. Sadly, this 1990 period-instrument performance fails to convey the work’s humanism and at times sheer sense of humour: many of the natural phenomena Haydn paints in colourful vignettes emerge in grey monochrome.

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Much of the blame for this must be laid at the feet of Sigiswald Kuijken, whose direction tends towards the rigid and hard-driven. Best of the three soloists is Kristina Laki, whose tone is fresh and whose vocalism is consistently skilled; the bass, meanwhile, is no more than correct and the tenor frequently uncomfortable to listen to. Among more spirited alternatives, that by Solti with the Chicago Symphony – inauthentic though it may be – stands out. George Hall