Pleasant Performances if not the Very Best
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 08/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bamert currently seems the man for forgotten symphonic music of this period, that is the Classical/Early Romantic. I've lost track of the little known composers and their symphonies he's recorded, but by now it must total well over twenty. This recording, made in the mid-nineties, consists of 5 symphonies of Michael Haydn, who is rather better known than the usual composers taken up by this group. The younger Haydn by now should be recognized as a good composer quite separate from his famous brother and equally famous composer friend, Mozart.
What can we expect from this Haydn? Basically he leans to a more lyrical approach than his brother; though he is adept at counterpoint and frequently writes rather involved passages of fugue he remains essentially not so much dramatic as songful. He frequently shows a little too much repetition - thus repeating a passage may not always serve his best interests. Some of his slow movements can be very beautiful, if rarely memorably so. Yet overall he achieves an undeniable charm which when mixed with his craftsmanship raises his music above many others of this time. His symphonic music was first made widely available over a quarter century ago through Harold Farberman, and those performances remain remarkably good, touchstones for balancing Michael Haydn's hints of the London Bach with his attempts at keeping up with the extraordinary doings going on around him.
The symphonies on this CD vary from minor works to the very good, with the E flat major an especially good display of Haydn's better work.
Though careful performances these by Bamert don't seem to quite take off the way other Michael Haydn symphonies performances can. Thus I reserve one star."
David Saemann | 06/13/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have heard Harold Farberman conduct Michael Haydn, and good though he may be, I think Matthias Bamert is better. There is a wonderful combination of ease and detail in these readings. There never is a dull moment, and the playing is warm and ingratiating. The London Mozart Players is one of the few chamber orchestras with a distinctive sound, a splendid blend of 18th Century style and modern instrument savoir faire. As for the music, it is humane and charming. Michael Haydn may not have the inventiveness of his more famous brother, but he also avoids the tensions of Franz Joseph's Sturm und Drang period. A symphony like P 16, the one that was once attributed to Mozart, has richness and a splendid range, even if its themes are not as memorable as those of Michael's more celebrated contemporaries. I've collected a number of Chandos's Contemporaries of Mozart series, and this CD is unambiguously among the best of them."