This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
Written in 1768 and first performed that year at the Cistercian monastery of Zwettl, it honored the seventieth birthday of the Abbot Raynor Kollmann. (Opus Ill's notes state that it was for the Abbot's fiftieth anniversary of taking his vows but that didn't happen for several more years, as has been made clear by H. C. Robbins Landon.) There may have been another performance in 1773, but the cantata remained unheard until 1958 when extensive excerpts were performed as a part of a BBC series titled “The Unknown Haydn.“ This was supervised by Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon with Harry Newstone conducting the Haydn Orchestra with a stellar solo quartet consisting of Joan Sutherland, Marjorie Thomas, Richard Lewis, and John Cameron. Ever
since I obtained the vinyl transcriptions of this performance almost thirty years ago, I have wished for a commercial recording.
At long last we have one, and, surprise, it contains more than twice as much music as the BBC performance. The source is unexpected: who would have thought it would be a French company using a French provincial orchestra and soloists of mixed nationality (two Americans, one Canadian, one Swede, and one who is presumably French)? Only tenor Douglas Johnson is clearly inferior to his BBC counterpart. Underwritten by the France Télécom Foundation, the whole production is carefully done. Detailed notes are provided by Marc Vignai and Patrick Fourmilier. Full texts and translations are provided. The sixteen-member chorus, which is used only in the finale, is polished as is the Picardie Regional Sinfonietta. Conductor Fourmilier keeps everything moving briskly and seems to have had enough rehearsal time to form a coherent conception of the music. The sound is clean, and not quite as resonant as might be ideal, but certainly superior to the BBC transcription. As needed, both harpsichord and portative organ are used with a small ensemble for accompanying the secco recitatives. This adds an important variety and seems to accord with what would have been done in Zwettl. While lacking only slightly in the fire and drama of the Newstone/BBC performance, this has the advantages of a greater degree of stylistic accuracy and forces that are close to what were used in Haydn's day.
Both the BBC and this performance benefit from the existence of detailed performance instructions contained in a letter which Haydn sent to Zwettl. He was clearly nervous that he wouldn't be there personally to supervise the production and so described carefully what he wanted, even to the point of Latin pronunciation. (Opus Ill's notes quote from his letter; Robbins Landon reads the letter in its entirety as a part of his spoken commentary for the BBC transcription.)
Though lacking in the drama provided by the plots of The Creation and The Seasons, Ap-plausus is a remarkable work. Despite the static nature of an allegorical work, there is a good deal of musical variety. The four moralizing cardinal virtues and Theology extol the monastic life and the character of the abbot. (I see no need to summarize the text.) The celebratory nature of the material brings out the creative fire in Haydn.
Though this release seems to be quietly sneaking into the catalog, it really deserves a fanfare heralding its arrival. True lovers of Haydn simply must have it.
-- John Bauman, FANFARE [1/1993] Read less
Works on This Recording
Applausus, H 24a no 6 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Desmond Byrne (Bass),
Douglas Johnson (Tenor),
Kirsten Dolberg (Alto),
Rosemary Musoleno (Soprano)
Haydn Vocal Ensemble,
Written: 1768; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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