Chandos has continued apace with their splendid Haydn series, previous issues in their mass canon have proved to be excellent. The Missa Cellensis is the longest mass from the thirteen and includes some brilliant passages for choir and orchestra, although the bulk of the work is for the soloists. Hickox paces a trenchant Kyrie that lacks nothing in momentum and energy although I marginally prefer Preston's magnificent recording for Decca here.
The Gloria is also very beautiful and the conductor has just the right measure of the fugal passages that move along quite brilliantly. I was not all that happy with the Credo which hangs fire at times, however the recording surpasses Preston in its ample special definition. In the concluding Sanctus and Agnus Dei, the florid martial passages have something of the future Haydn about them and are quite brilliantly handled by Hickox and his orchestra.
All in all, this is a superiorly recorded Missa Cellensis although I still believe Preston remains on top. The accompanying early mass is an interesting curiosity item although as such it is just an intriguing filler. As usual, the release comes packaged with sumptuous notes and a wonderful front cover, the famous Blake painting that has inspired so many. Collectors of the Haydn Mass Edition need not hesitate to acquire this latest release.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech