This "twofer" from Decca is a very inexpensive way to acquaint yourself with four of Haydn's superb settings of the Mass at one fell swoop.The famous Wilcocks recording of the "Nelson Mass" (in a very fresh transfer) may have drawn you in initially,but just as attractive to my mind are the other "late" Masses i.e the "Paukenmesse" and "Harmoniemesse".Both are supreme examples of what happened when Haydn's mastery of the symphonic form collided in a glorious fashion with the liturgy towards the end of his career.The other fruits of this sacred explosion were the "Theresienmesse" and "Schopfungsmesse",and I sincerely can't recommend them too highly to you.They can be found on the other "twofer" in this reissue,or why not indulge yourself in the Decca box of the complete Masses on seven CDs.For a relatively modest investment,you will reap dividends for life in that particular Heavenly collection. Not to be neglected for a moment is the charming "Little Organ Mass" from earlier on in the master's career.The high point here is the lovely Benedictus with that extended solo for Soprano and organ.Jennifer Smith and John Scott positively luxuriate in the limelight in this magical passage. If I have a complaint to make about the 2CD set here;it's that the "Paukenmesse" is awkwardly split between the discs.It's "torso" of Kyrie,Gloria and Credo is on disc 1 while the Sanctus,Benedictus and that brilliant Agnus Dei are isolated on disc 2.Call me slothful if you like,but I really resent my carefully nurtured reverie been interupted by the onerous task of changing the discs over.But it's churlish of me to carp on about such a minor detail,when the goods on offer are of such high quality and come in such a generous quantity.Go ahead and buy in complete confidence that you will be getting performances of outstanding merit that truly make these fabulous Masses sing and soar in a manner that will have you embracing your speakers in sheer delight !
This version of the Nelson Mass is magnificent. The orchestral playing is fully committed and as Gramophone has said it will take you to the gates of Paradise. Up until now I have only had the original instrument version by Pinnock on Archiv. This version makes that awarding winning version pale by a long shot. This version has the power to transport you to another world not even glimpsed by the Pinnock version. I can't believe I have lived so long without this performance. The work is completely different than the one you see and hear on the Pinnock version. Truly a magnificent, magnetic and overwhelming interpretation. A MUST/ AN ESSENTIAL RECORDING. The Little Organ Mass, Eine Kleine Orgelmesse included on this disc is also sublime with a magnificent soprano solo. The Paukenmesse (Mass in Tempore Belli) is very good also; it's only the very important last mass of Haydn's 6 late masses that is poor to mediocre on this disc i.e. the Harmoniemesse. So you MUST buy this version for a sublime Nelson Mass performance and you will also have a sublime Kleine Orgelmesse and a very good Paukenmesse as well. You will have to get another version of the Harmoniemesse however because the version included here is very poor, perhaps the Gardiner version on Philips, which is coupled with the Creation Mass another essential Haydn mass and also one of the 6 late masses.Haydn: Schopfungsmesse / Harmoniemesse The Messe Sancti Bernardi the other remaining mass of the 6 late masses is available in a good rendition coupled with the Paukenmesse by Gardiner on Philips Haydn: Heiligmesse / Paukenmesseand that will complete your collection of the important Haydn 6 late masses with the exception of the Theresien mass which is well recorded on Archiv by Pinnock. You will also want to have a copy of Haydn's 2nd Cellensis mass HOB XXII/8 in the performance by Kubelick on OrfeoHaydn - Messe a Sainte Cécile or the performance on the Hanssler label. Haydn Masses
What price art? Well, in 'credit crunch' Britain, quite a lot actually. These are pioneering performances of wonderful, inspired masses by Father Haydn, performed here with enormous vigour and joyful abandon. This is great music making and it has not been bettered in the 'authentic' performance period since this was committed to disc. Buy it and be inspired!
However, as at March 2010, I would recommend the new Naxos set of the complete masses (see review). This older set is still wonderful though.
A lovely clear CD to listen to. I bought this to practise along with for our choirs next concert. Unfortunately the insert giving the track numbers does not bear much resemblance to the actual tracks, and I had to listen to the whole CD, and compare with recordings on YouTube to find which track was which. The masses were listed in a different order on the insert to the one in which they played. Rather strange.
Heard some of this over Christmas by sheer chance and hadn't known about the pieces beforehand. Now a favourite in the CD player. Decca Double packs have a superb reputation for high quality performances and recordings at unbeatable value. Level of enjoyment comparable to Mozart works, so I recommend you try this set if you are not already familiar with it.
A little old fashioned in style but for me without equal in these works. Of course the Willcocks Nelson Mass stands out. Sylvia Stahlmann is little known but she and the well known other three of the quartet of soloists made a huge impression on me when I first owned this recording in the 70s. A favourite recording and great value 2 cd set.
Excellent recording and performance. However, the version also posted to my "cloud" was the wrong set of four Haydn Masses. A phone call was all that was necessary to correct this, however, and I now have the correct download as well as the CDs.