M Haydn

COMPOSERS: M Haydn
LABELS: Oehms
ALBUM TITLE: M Haydn
WORKS: Andromeda und Perseus
PERFORMER: Heike Porstein, Christine Wolff, Max Ciolek, Raimund Nolte; Vokal Ensemble Köln; Saarbrücken Radio SO/Reinhard Goebel
CATALOGUE NO: OC 911
A hate-figure in the Mozart correspondence, the Prince Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo celebrated his 15th anniversary as head of the Salzburg diocese in 1787. For the occasion, a new work was commissioned on the subject of the maiden Andromeda, rescued from a sea-monster by the hero Perseus. Colloredo was presumably intended as the worthy recipient of this flattering piece, though whatever local popularity he may have had, evaporated some years later when he departed from the secularised city with the vast fortune that he had managed to carve out of it. Leopold Mozart was dismissive too of the worth of his colleague Michael Haydn’s score, though unduly so. Joseph Haydn’s brother may have lacked his sibling’s genius, but this decorous and decorative work rises in places to music of genuine imagination and charm, and shows definite dramatic ability. It’s adequately performed here, with vivid and characterful playing from the Saarbrücken Radio Orchestra under Reinhard Goebel, and nicely managed choral singing. The soloists are more mixed, with Christine Wolff’s Perseus less securely in command of the coloratura than Heike Porstein’s Andromeda, though even she gets into difficulties. The work is performed in a contemporary German translation, jettisoning the recitatives in favour of a spoken narration. On these grounds, if no others, the existing Italian-language recording is preferable. George Hall

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