Classical, September 2023

hfnalbum.pngDeutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Paavo Jarvi
Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 101 'Clock' & 103 'Drumroll'
RCA 19658807412 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

A simple ff to pp suffices for the drumroll itself and at the other end of No.103 Järvi rejects the outlandish G sharp minor excursion in some editions. In between, everything is just so: surprisingly hard to achieve in Haydn. He times the surprise return of the drumroll itself perfectly, draws out the 'Dies Irae' motif in the bass to evoke its lugubrious association, and even turns up the heat just a notch in the coda of (i). The two themes of (ii) are beautifully contrasted, and their eventual synthesis a marvel of balance as well as construction. He doesn't rush his fences in either Minuet – a common failing – and the slow movement of the 'Clock' ticks along nicely. PQ


Kristoffer Hyldig
Messiaen: Vingt Regards Sur L'Enfant-Jésus
OUR 6220677-78 (two discs; downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

Hyldig's measured tempi take some getting used to, much slower than the definitive Loriod, but the effort pays off with a cumulative experience of devotional concentration across two and a half hours. It wouldn't have nearly the same impact without an outstandingly ambient DXD recording that will reward the fanciest kit at your disposal. You can almost reach out and touch the ppp chords of the 'First Communion' and the bass partials underpinning 'I sleep, but my heart keeps watch'. The polyphonic starbursts of (6) and (10) don't feel slow because Hyldig articulates them with maximum force and clarity – I kept turning the volume up. PQ


Choir Of Gonville & Caius, Cambridge/Matthew Martin
Philips & Dering: Motets
Linn CKD717 (downloads to 96kHz/24-bit resolution)

An Anglican college choir and their Catholic director form an apt union for this pair of recusant composers who fled 16th-century Reformation England for Spanish-Catholic courts in the Netherlands. The usual, polished Oxbridge sound is refreshed by the authentic addition of instrumental doubling from fiddles and sackbuts, lending a Venetian swell and majesty to the madrigalian Jesu Dulcedo Cordium. Michael's battle with the dragon gets a dramatic makeover in the familiar Factum Est Silentium, and the quintessentially Elizabethan suspensions of O Bone Jesu are sumptuously opened out. PQ


Lintl, Nyári, Magdeburg Opera/Anna Skryleva
Eugen Engel: Grete Minde
Orfeo C260352 (two discs)

Korngold and Strauss lovers will lap up the soaring vocal lines, yearning harmony and late-Viennese orchestration of this off the beaten track three-act tragedy. Eugen Engel (1875-1943) was a Jewish businessman and part-time composer, murdered at Sobibor. Grete Minde adapts a Theodor Fontane novella of small-minded persecution set in a medieval German village; the heroine is an outcast who runs away from her family to join the circus. Chorus of nuns, second-act tavern scene, climactic immolation: check. This live recording does the piece proud – it is strongly sung, vibrantly played, and directed with love. PQ