Thanks to Julien Chauvin and his ensemble La Loge, the programs of the Concert Spirituel’s evenings in the late 18th century Paris come back to life. The so called Haydn’s “symphonies parisiennes” are the core of their musical project which also features contemporary composers, some of them are still unknown.
Luigi Cherubini's Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn was not, in the event, written after Haydn's death in 1809, but in response to a premature report of that event in 1804. The revival of Classical-period music has thus far given Cherubini short shrift, which is surprising in connection with the man whom Beethoven called the greatest living composer. Maybe this German release, by the veteran historical-instrument ensemble Cappella Coloniensis, will stimulate fresh activity. The chief attraction here is the seldom recorded tribute to Haydn. It's a wonderful work, with an unorthodox form that seems to bespeak strong feeling. Cherubini worked from an existing funeral text by Masonic author Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor, but the shape of the piece is his own. He opens with a slow, profound polyphonic introduction that not only must have appealed to Beethoven but perhaps even influenced the idiom of his late works.
Experience two grand classics, alive with all the excitement and verve of their very first performances. Thrill to one of Haydn’s masterful ‘London’ symphonies that wowed England’s capital – the smash hit ‘Military’, so-called for intense depictions of the clash of arms and ferocious roar of war. In the epic Nelson Mass Handel and Haydn Society's magnificent chorus and soloists join the orchestra in this homage to the heroic admiral who helped to vanquish Napoleon.
Founded by the late, great conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1953, Concentus Musicus Wien was one of the very first period-instrument orchestras, its recordings of baroque and classical masterworks setting benchmarks for their sheer energy and spirit. Today, the orchestra continues that powerful legacy under the baton of Austrian conductor Stefan Gottfried, whose ingenious programme here invites us to make musical links between Schubert and the earlier Haydn. On the surface, Schubert’s youthful Symphony No. 5, completed in 1816, owes a clear debt to Beethoven. But listen to Haydn’s sophisticated Symphony No. 99, the first of his second series of “London symphonies”, and you can hear that same charm and boisterous exuberance shining through in Schubert’s later work. The performances, captured live at Vienna’s famous Musikverein, are a pure joy.
The well-known Concert de la Loge, the period instruments orchestra led by the violinist Julien Chauvin, return with the third episode of Haydn’s journey in Paris.