M. Haydn: Endimione

Aleksandra Zamojska, Ulrike Hofbauer, Lydia Teuscher, Nicholas Spanos, Salvburger Hofmusik, Wolfgang Brunner
113:29 (2 CDs)
cpo 555 288-2

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The serenata Endimione is part of a body of such miniature operas composed at the Court of Salzburg in the second half of the 18th century, which includes the azione teatrale il sogno di Scipione and Il re pastore by Mozart. Work by a number of ensembles, not least Salzburger Hofmusik, has increasingly brought Michael Haydn out from the shadow of his elder brother, Joseph, and this charming serenata highlights his skills with the voice and with orchestral writing. It is probable that the virtuoso soprano part of Endimione would have been taken by Mozart’s friend and collaborator, the celebrated Munich castrato, Tommaso Consoli, and it is sung impressively here by the countertenor Nicholas Spanos. A fine line-up of three excellent sopranos take the parts of Amor, Diana and Nice, producing the necessary vocal fireworks, while they are ably supported by the wonderfully responsive Salzburger Hofmusik under the direction of Wolfgang Brunner. While some ensembles take a much more aggressive approach to the music of this period, the Salzburger Hofmusik are always appropriately courtly, allowing the music to speak for itself. This pays dividends at moments such as Endimione’s accompanied recit Lode al ciel and Diana’s ensuing Cavatina, where Haydn’s delicious orchestration and sublime lyrical skills are allowed to unfold naturally. Indeed, this serenata is rich in such inspired passages, underlining the fact that Michael Haydn’s distinctive compositional voice has until recently been so unfairly overshadowed. Salzburger Hofmusik have already played a key role in highlighting the Court Kapellmeister’s skills as a composer of church music, but this present recording shows his equally remarkable abilities as an “operatic” composer.

D. James Ross

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