Haydn (Michael): Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9; Symphony No. 10

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COMPOSERS: Haydn (Michael)
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 4; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; Symphony No. 8; Symphony No. 9; Symphony No. 10
PERFORMER: Slovak CO/Bohdan Warchal
CATALOGUE NO: 999 101-2; 999 152-2; 999 153-2 (3 separate discs) DDD
The reputation of Michael Haydn (born 1737) suffers from his older brother’s concentration on similar forms, notably orchestral and church music. These cheerful symphonies were all composed by 1768, and are numbered 1-10; some 30 more were to follow. Given with repeats, they range from the diminutive (No. 9, three movements lasting seven minutes), to full-scale works. I recommend sampling the second disc. The short Nos. 4 and 6 contain exquisite slow movements, the former called ‘Confidence’ (intimacy rather than braggadocio is implied; there is an attractive independent bassoon part), the latter with muted strings. No.5 is the longest (26 minutes) and is continuously inventive, recalling the Baroque or anticipating Beethoven (those brilliant horns in A) as much as Joseph Haydn, and with a smattering of counterpoint. The long No. 8 (disc 3) is the most quirkily original. The New Grove tells us that Michael neglected the woodwind; but the bassoon features in the slow movement and trio, the finale offers clarinet and horn solos and there are brilliant trumpet parts. These works match Joseph’s before he was 30, and the Slovaks do them lively justice. The flute concertos are only pleasant, and the austere originality of Joseph’s Philosopher shows him forging ahead at 32. Julian Rushton

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