Notes and Editorial Reviews
Note: Work list for this release is incomplete. Click read more below for the set's general contents. -
An inspiration to Mozart and a teacher to composers such as Diabelli and Weber, Johann Michael Haydn was a respected and influential figure during his lifetime. The collection opens with Michael Haydn’s symphonies. By the age of 25, he already held the prestigious position of court composer and Konzertmeister in Salzburg. The earliest symphonies included here, No.1 in C and No.1B in F, date from 1758 and display the youthful energy of a composer finding his feet. In comparison, the later symphonies demonstrate a greater understanding of the complexities of every instrument in the ensemble. His penultimate symphony, F major MH507, features an expressive Adagio ma non troppo where the composer gives the bassoon a lyrical melody line. Haydn also wrote concertos that gave prominence to under-represented instruments including the trombone and the clarinet, the latter of which had only been invented at the turn of the 18th century. Haydn’s varied and extensive output caught the eye of Mozart, 20 years his junior. He greatly admired Haydn and the two remained close friends until Haydn’s death in 1806. Michael Haydn has suffered from musical misattributions, and many of the works in this set have only recently been correctly attributed. For example the G major symphony MH334 was believed to have been Mozart’s Symphony No.37 until 1907, when musicologist Lothar Perger discovered Mozart had only written the introduction. Scholarship has continued shedding light on Michael Haydn’s music, and an improvement on Perger’s 1907 catalogue of the composer’s works is the recent one created by Charles Sherman and T. Donley Thomas in 1993, in which 838 pieces are each assigned an MH number according to the authors’ best guesses at chronology. Michael Haydn also wrote serenades, divertimenti and notturni, genres popular during the Classical and Romantic eras, where a tuneful melody is prioritised over technical virtuosity. The D major Serenade MH86 has ten movements including a concertino for horn and trombone, which features uplifting solo lines.
Discs 1 to 7 -Symphonies
Discs 8 to 10 - Divertimenti, Notturni, and Serenade
Discs 11 to 13 - Concertos and Concertinos
Discs 14 to 21 - Sacred Choral Works
Discs 22 to 24 - Opera and Singspiele
Discs 25 to 28 - Chamber Music
This is a wonderful set without a single duff disc and one which should win some new friends for Michael Haydn’s music. It serves as both an excellent introduction as well as an addition for someone like myself who already has a collection of Haydn’s music, as it not only fills some gaps, but also offers superb alternative recordings to those you might already have. All the performances are first rate and are blessed with at least very good recorded sound. Although Philip Borg-Wheeler’s notes are basic at best, there is enough information there to make you want to explore further while using this set to base your collection around. This set has certainly inspired me to dig deeper into both the music of Michael Haydn and the character of the man himself.
– MusicWeb International