In a conducting career spanning several decades, Sir Neville Marriner has had many great achievements, especially with his own Academy of St. Martin In The Fields, and as music director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra from 1969 to 1978. Another great achievement was the series of recordings he made during the middle and late 1980s with the Dresden State Orchestra for EMI of the later Mass settings of Franz Joseph Haydn, recordings that, alongside similar ones made by Leonard Bernstein, both with the New York Philharmonic in the 1970s and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in the 1980s, bought this particular aspect of Haydn's output back into the forefront after having been somewhat obscured by his one hundred four symphonies.
This particular recording focuses on two Mass settings of Haydn that are in the same key, B Flat Major, but which are strikingly different in a lot of ways. The 13th setting, his next-to-last such setting, composed in 1801, is known as the "Schopfungmesse" or "Creation Mass", because the composer recycled music in the "Gloria" section of the work from the final Adam & Eve duet of his recently completed oratorio "The Creation." It is of fairly sizeable scale in terms of orchestration and choral forces. The Mass No. 7, composed much earlier in 1775, officially known as the "Missa Brevis Sancti Joannis De Deo", is also known as the "Kleine Orgelsolomesse", or "Little Organ Mass", because of the extensive use of the organ in the work's Benedictus section. It is far smaller in size than its companion on this recording, lasting only seventeen minutes, and scored only for strings orchestra, organ, and choir here (though other editions insert the more imposing trumpets and timpani, and even clarinets).
Barbara Hendricks, Ann Murray, Hans-Peter Blochwitz, and Matthias Holle acquaint themselves quite well in the large-scale Creation Mass, while Miss Hendricks takes a solo turn in the Little Organ Mass. As in the other recordings of the Haydn Mass series made by Marriner, the Leipzig Radio Choir is on hand, with organist Hansjurgen Scholze; and the Dresden State Orchestra is at its world-class brilliance under a great master like Marriner. These Haydn recordings, this one included, are highly recommended for anyone interested in the sacred musical aspect of Papa Haydn, and for those who are highly attuned to finding heretofore hidden aspects about this great composer in Western music history.