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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67510
Recording details: May 2004
St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Ben Turner
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: March 2005
Total duration: 43 minutes 33 seconds

'A good version of the Requiem appeared last year … but this new one has the edge, in the sharpness of the orchestral contribution (the crucial brass register more pungently), the clarity and attack of the choir, and in the quality of the solo quartet, led by the vernal soprano of Carolyn Sampson. In both works Robert King chooses convincing tempos, keeps the rhythms vital and, in the Mass, never tries to drive Haydn's amiable, graceful music too hard. If you love Mozart's and Joseph Haydn's church music, you can hardly fail to enjoy this' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The booklet note by King covers useful ground. On the music King is very good, making numerous shrewd observations and conveying the enthusiasm that is evident in these outstanding performances. The real achievement is his, in directing readings of blazing intensity which yet entirely lack artificial excitement' (International Record Review)

'Both performances, from Robert King and his Consort and Choir, are outstanding. The playing is beautifully honed, the choral singing at once clear and thrilling, particularly superb in both the hushed, devotional opening of the Requiem and the elation and sweep of the Ursuline Mass. There's a fine quartet of soloists too, with an exceptional contribution from the much undervalued contralto Hilary Summers. The whole thing serves as a welcome reminder that there are still indeed lost masterpieces out there, waiting to be discovered' (The Guardian)

'King's performances are as attractive as the music, with fine solos from Carolyn Sampson and Hilary Summers' (The Sunday Times)

'Haydn's flair for large-scale choral writing permeates his majestic Requiem, inspiring a suitably sumptuous performance from Robert King and his excellent musicians' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The performances of both works stand in little need of detailed comment. They are quite simply breathtaking in their range and scope, conducted by King with all (and more) of the ardor and blazing commitment his words to me would suggest. The big climactic moments, aided by Hyperion's superlative sound, come across with thrilling immediacy and definition, while Haydn's lyricism is treated with loving care and attention to detail. Add to that an outstanding quartet of soloists, and magnificent choral and orchestral work, and you have an self-recommending issue on the highest level of attainment … Make no mistake; this is a truly great recording that I beg every reader to obtain without further ado' (Fanfare, USA)

'Robert King teases crisp, clean performances of both works from the Choir of The King's Consort, The King's Consort and an appealing team of soloists in Carolyn Sampson, the fruity voiced Hilary Summers, James Gilchrist and Peter Harvey' (The Evening Standard)

'a triumph … Hyperion at its best' (Music Week)

Missa in honorem Sanctae Ursulae 'Chiemsee-Messe'
composer
author of text
Ordinary of the Mass

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
This fine Mass was completed on 5 August 1793 for the convent of Frauenwörth, a Benedictine Abbey set on a beautiful island in the Bavarian Chiemsee (hence the nickname ‘Chiemsee-Messe’), and was probably intended for the service on 19 August accompanying the taking of final vows by the composer’s friend Ursula Oswald. Throughout his life, Haydn held close ties with the Benedictine church, maintaining a lifelong friendship with the brothers of the Abbey of St Peter in Salzburg, even living in one of their abbey houses. A manuscript copy of this Mass is still to be found in the music archive there.

Some three dozen Masses by Haydn survive. He described himself as a methodical copyist and indeed his manuscripts are neat and unusually free of errors. The Mass for St Ursula is a substantial work which well represents Haydn’s late style, in which large-scale unity is achieved through the subtle transformation and recall of thematic material between the movements. The scoring is for strings (without violas), two trumpets and timpani, with the lower three vocal parts doubled, as was customary at the time, by trombones.

The ‘Kyrie’ is optimistic, with soloists and chorus answering one another, pinned together by splendidly ornate violin lines. The ‘Gloria’ is one of Haydn’s finest; a cheerful, unison choral opening sets a triumphant tone, against which the violins whirl in elegant flurries of notes. In the middle section Haydn makes use of a favourite colour, that of muted violins, adding melodic inflections and harmonic twists which are reminiscent of writing that was to be produced by Mendelssohn twenty years later: a stylish, sighing motif is skilfully developed. The highlight of the movement is a compelling closing fugue, ‘Cum Sancto Spiritu’, which finds Haydn at his most uplifting and thrilling.

The ‘Credo’ too opens confidently, with the trumpets eventually provided with an uncommon role, that of representing the descent from heaven. In the intimate middle section, ‘Et incarnatus est’, sighing muted violins accompany the solo quartet, with trumpets and timpani entering to indicate the nails of the crucifixion: the chromatic ending of ‘et sepultus est’ is another fine touch before a triumphant resurrection and an ecstatic ‘Amen’.

Haydn opens the ‘Sanctus’ solemnly and, unusually, quietly, reserving joyfulness instead for the ‘Pleni sunt coeli’ and a brief ‘Osanna’. Unusual too is the scoring of the gentle ‘Benedictus’, where the conventional late-eighteenth-century scoring usually involves all four solo voices: Haydn writes for the soprano alone, punctuated occasionally by the chorus. An orchestral motif (first gently introduced at 0'53") increases in prominence during the movement.

The ‘Agnus Dei’ again makes use of the colour of muted violins, who introduce another Mendelssohnian orchestral motif (three chromatically rising notes followed by a descending fifth) which gently permeates the slow opening section, reaching its development in the extrovert, closing allegro molto. Haydn’s ‘Dona nobis pacem’ is jubilant, though he leaves one final, surprise gesture for the end of this splendid Mass setting.

from notes by Robert King © 2005

Other albums featuring this work
'The King's Consort Collection' (KING7)
The King's Consort Collection
MP3 £4.50FLAC £4.50ALAC £4.50 KING7  Super-budget price sampler — Deleted  
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