Alice Foccroule, Pierre Gallon
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These delightful accounts of 18 of Haydn’s 24 Deutsche Lieder Hob. XXVI will undoubtedly win many fans to this relatively neglected aspect of the composer’s oeuvre. The decision to alternate harpsichord and fortepiano allows Pierre Gallon to provide a degree of textural variety – the title page suggests ‘clavier’ which allows for either, although it has to be said that the accompaniments contain figures which to my ears sound distinctively pianistic. The songs were published in two batches in 1781 and 1784, for no better reason than that the composer had failed to find adequate texts to complete the project for the earlier date. All aspects of the presentation suggest that they belong essentially to one set, although the composer’s interest in finding quality texts is significant – a major feature of all the songs here is the strength of the lyrics and the composer’s immediate and sensitive response to them. Alice Foccroule has the ideal voice for this repertoire, beautifully focussed and expressive, and a vital element in the success of these recordings is her intelligent reading of the texts. The mature Haydn displays an advanced mastery of harmonic progression and lyrical and expressive melody, and these songs very much point the way to the subsequent flowering of German Lieder. As a small bonus, the performers give us a touching account of Abschiedslied, formerly attributed to Haydn, but now thought to be the work of Adalbert Gyrowetz. The fact that this song could have been considered to be by Haydn emphasises the composer’s influence on this genre, as well as usefully reminding us that Vienna boasted a large number of other fine composers like Gyrowetz, many of whom are nowadays unjustifiably neglected.
D. James Ross