Michael Haydn: The Complete String Quintets

Salzburger Haydn-Quintett
146:02 (2CDs)
cpo 777 907-2

Of the five works that make up this fine collection, only one is categorically named “Quintetto” by the composer (Perger 110); of the others, two are divertimenti (106 with six movements, and 112 with seven!), while 109 is a “Notturno” and 108 has this designation and Quintetto. All are in major keys and abundant in Michael Haydn tunefulness and mirth. One of the most interesting movements is one of the Allegretto variations from 105, marked “Recitativo. Adagio. Senza Rigor di Tempo”. Contrasting the pairs of violins and violas is a common technique throughout, and the Salzburger Haydn-Quintett on period instruments seem to enjoy this entertaining if not exactly intellectually challenging repertoire. Since Haydn was a viola player in the prince-elector’s chamber ensemble, we must possibly imagine him enjoy his turn in the limelight.

Brian Clark