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Sturm und Drang, Vol. 2

The Mozartists/Ian Page, et al (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Sturm und Drang, Vol. 2
Haydn: Symphony No. 39 in G minor, Hob 1; Stabat Mater – Fac me vere tecum flere*; Gluck: Paride ed Elene – excerpt*; Vanhal: Symphony in D minor; Mysliveček: Semiramide – Tu mi disprezzi ingrato*; JC Bach: Sinfonia in G minor, Op. 6 No. 6;
*Ida Ränzlöv (mezzo-soprano); The Mozartists/Ian Page
Signum Classics SIGCD636   70:10 mins

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This is the second of seven projected releases in which Ian Page and his period orchestra, The Mozartists, are exploring the 1760s and ’70s during which composers abruptly took to modes of emotional turmoil and driving tension; possibly in reaction to the ornamental prettiness of the rococo style and slightly in advance of a similar development in literature which gave the tendency its slogan of ‘storm and stress’. The fierce agitation of the outer movements of Haydn’s Symphony No. 39 certainly exemplify such qualities, just as the dynamic sweep and hair-trigger precision of Ian Page’s players demonstrate their skill and commitment in articulating them.

The substantial D minor Symphony by Vanhal suggests a fiery stylistic midpoint between Haydn and Mozart – he played string quartets with both of them, while Haydn himself seems to have remembered an idea in the slow movement of the exceptionally laconic G minor Symphony by the ‘London’ Bach in his own later String Quartet Op. 20, No. 2.

Of the vocal items, delivered with volatile feeling by the Swedish mezzo Ida Ränzlöv, the Gluck arias are troubled and plaintive; more impetuous is a scena by the short-lived Josef Mysliveček, while an aria from Haydn’s Stabat Mater reminds us that a stern austerity was also a feature of ‘storm and stress’.

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Bayan Northcott