Boston Baroque - Haydn: Lord Nelson Mass - The Arts Desk

In a week bristling with geo-political tension, we need Haydn's "Mass for Troubled Times" more than ever. Here, Boston Baroque's natural trumpets blast out their tattoo in the Kyrie with a punch matched by that of the choir. Such a magnificent opening - the boldness due in part to Prince Esterházy's economically-driven downsizing of Haydn's orchestral forces. Woodwinds and horns had been dismissed, and trumpets and timpani were used instead to supplement the ripieno strings. Martin Pearlman's swift speeds are perfectly judged, and this performance ticks all the right boxes. Sample the moment a minute into into Haydn's Gloria in excelsis Deo, when the solo quartet step aside to let Pearlman's massed choral forces ring out. It's as rousing as anything in Mahler 8. Pearlman's excellent soloists work hard, and he captures the mood changes as well as anyone. 
We get the Symphony no 102 as a welcome bonus. Pearlman's full-blooded approach works well, though the resonant acoustic can make for oppressive listening in the louder tuttis. Muted brass in Haydn's Adagio add their colour, and the Presto finale zips along, almost derailling to comic effect in the final 30 seconds. Two masterpieces on a well-produced disc - brilliant music, performed with style.

The Arts Desk
08 March 2014