Haydn: Cantatas, Hob. XXIVa:2, 3, 4; Symphony No. 12

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Cantatas, Hob. XXIVa:2, 3, 4; Symphony No. 12
PERFORMER: Sunhae Im, Johanna Stojkovic´ (soprano), Max Ciolek (tenor); Cologne Vocal Ensemble, WDR Cappella Coloniensis/Andreas Spering, Nicholas Kraemer
CATALOGUE NO: HMC 901765
Singing his Prince’s praises, through solo prowess and corporate choral accord, was one of Haydn’s many tasks as Kapellmeister to the courts of Eszterháza and Eisenstadt, their palaces now on either side of the marshy Austro-Hungarian border. Yet the commissions celebrating Prince Nikolaus’s name-day have not been heard since their first performances in 1763 and 1764. So this world-premiere recording of two Haydn cantatas is both a valuable document, and an exuberant piece of music-making.

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Cappella Coloniensis ensures that there is plenty of sturdy, secure, old-style pomp as well as thrumming circumstance at the start of Destatevi, o miei fidi, kept on the harmonic and rhythmic boil by Haydn. And among the alternating recitatives and duets is a starry number for the two guest sopranos Sunhae Im and Johanna Stojkovic´, invoking astrological fortune, followed by a swirling metaphorical sea-storm of a final chorus.

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The Prince’s 1764 name-day is honoured in Qual dubbio ormai – more florid heroics for the radiant Sunhae Im, this time with a shamelessly showy harpsichord solo, clearly intended for Haydn himself. As if this were not quite enough flattery, Al tuo arrivo felice lustily celebrates the Prince’s return from the coronation of Emperor Josef II: the diurnal round of a latterday sun king is incarnated in a bouncy choral chain-rondo, spangled with harpsichord sunspots. Hilary Finch