Masterly Choral Works at a Bargain Price
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lovers of Haydn's great choral music can rejoice in the fact that Sony has reduced the price of Weil's generously filled CDs featuring the masses. Here we have the Heiligmesse ("Holy Mass," not a very descriptive title), one of the six great, late masses of Haydn; in the Classical era, only Beethoven's Missa Solemnis matches Haydn's achievement in these works. Compared with the better-known Paukenmesse and Nielsenmesse, works that reflect Haydn's agitation over Napoleon's actions against Austria and her allies, the Heiligmesse is a sunny work, but one bustling with energy and brimful of arresting choral and instrumental writing, not to mention melodies!Weil also includes some pleasant Haydn rareties, the late Mare Clausum and the very early Motetti de Venerabili Sacramento, and the more potent Insanae et vanae curae and Te Deum, the last a genuine masterwork. If you don't know the Te Deum, it is Haydn at his most potent; the end with its insistent repetitions of "non confundar in eternum" sound like a command to God, capped as it is by a blazing cadence dominated by trumpets and drums. Wonderful stuff!In the Te Deum, Weil comes into competition with Pinnock on Archiv, whose disc also includes a wonderful performance of the Nelsonmesse. Both performances have their strengths, and it's hard to choose between them, but I think Weil's recording is a little more natural. Certainly in the Heiligmesse and the other pieces, though, I find Weil very compelling. His orchestra is first rate, the Tolz Boys' Choir sings with both beauty and feeling, and Weil keeps the excitement levels high. Some reviewers claim that Weil doesn't let the music breathe enough, skating over the more reflective moments in Haydn's masses. I don't see this, though. I find he does full justice to Haydn's great music. At any rate, you can't go wrong, given the many attractions of Weil's recording--including price."