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.
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