This is the first issue in a projected survey (Volume 2 - Volume 3) of the last six Haydn masses by the ever-enterprising John Eliot Gardiner and his equally excellent English Baroque Soloists. I have already reviewed the second issue featuring the 'Nelson' Mass and the 'Theresienmesse', finding them both extremely desirable and highly competitive in today's cutthroat market.
The masses take up a single disc each and although that is quite miserable playing time, they are being offered as a 'two-for-one' issue. In the 'Schopfungmesse', Gardiner sets placid, solid tempos that make for fine enjoyment especially in the 'Gloria' and 'Credo' passages. The 'Harmoniemesse' is slightly more restrained and there is some lovely work from the English Baroque Soloists winds who excel in portraying the quieter moments of this mass.
Gardiner uses a different quartet of soloists for each mass and I do prefer the more experienced Ziesak and Fink in the earlier mass although Lehtipu is an excellent and very promising tenor. The recordings are of top-drawer quality, as is to be expected from Philips. Compared to Guest, Marriner or the recent Hickox, I would now place Gardiner at the top in these two masses.
Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech