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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Vanhal’s Pastora Mass has a delightfully lyrical cantabile feeling, which gives the music a warmth and Arcadian simplicity that is very beguiling. Not all the solo contributions are absolutely secure, especially when two female voices are combined, but the choral response is very persuasive and the result is most rewarding. The Missa solemn is is rather more conventional, but Vandal’s setting is still richly enjoyable with the Bendictus and Agnus Dei particularly lovely. And he always makes the most of his ‘Amens’. The spacious recording adds to one’s enjoyment, and any minor reservations are swept aside when the disc is so inexpensive.

Robert Emmett
Fanfare, February 2002

"Grodd again demonstrates his affinity for the era in general and Vanhal in particular by pulling his forces together to produce sessions that are potent, committed, and revelatory. Both Artaria's performing editions and this recording have received high marks from two of the world's most respected musicologists, H.C. Robbins-Landon and Otto Biba."

Robert Emmett
Fanfare, November 2001

First place has been reserved for the Naxos world premiere recording of two Masses by Haydn’s contemporary, Johann Baptist Vanahal. Committed performers, scrupulous scholarship, and unerring musicianship in equipoise. In closing, I will steal a quotation from Schumann and apply it to Vanhal: ‘Hats off, gentlemen! A Genius!’

Rad Bennett
Schwann Inside, October 2001

"Maestro Grodd, who won a Cannes Classical Award for a previous recording of Vanhal's symphonies, has an uncanny knack for pacing that keeps the music moving at exactly the right speed, and he pays attention to every detail without sacrificing the whole. The recording is close yet properly balanced. At the low Naxos price, it is a must-have item."

X. Lacavalerie
Télérama, September 2001

ffff "... On croirait entendre une musique signée Haydn pour l'ingéniosité de l'écriture, revue et corrigée par Cimarosa (celui du Requiem) pour la beauté et l'efficacité des thèmes, avec une pointe de spiritualité et d'élégance toutes mozartiennes... pas de voix chichiteuses, d'articulations en dentelles, de phrasés aériens, de dynamiques subtiles ; pas d'instruments anciens non plus, mais une approche spontanée, toute musicale, digne de cette étonnante nouveauté"

Lindsay Kemp
Gramophone, July 2001

"While Johann Baptist Vanhal's eminence among Viennese composers of the classical period has always ensured a steady trickle of recordings of his music, interest has so far focused almost entirely on his symphonies and chamber works. He also produced a substantial number of sacred vocal compositions, however, among them no fewer than 60 Masses, over twice as many as Haydn and Mozart together. The two Masses recorded here (both for the first time, claim Naxos) are only a start at getting to grips with this output, but a welcome one nevertheless.

Both are thoroughly well-composed pieces lasting a little over half an hour and showing the Austrian stylistic traits familiar from Haydn's Masses: bright and vigorously declamatory choral writing over busy string passagework, leavened by occasional excursions into unisons or counterpoint; vocal solos, though not of the virtuosic type; and a due solemnity for certain key passages such as 'Et incarnatus est' or 'Qui tollis peccata mundi'. The Missa pastoralis adds to this a few rustic cliches, mainly in the form of drone basses (though Vanhal, a peasant's son, could at least lay more claim to authenticity here than many of his counterparts), while the more wide-ranging Missa solemnis includes unexpected busy solos for violin and organ, an attractive 'Benedictus' duet for soprano and alto, and a fine concluding fugue.

The performances by combined forces from Canada and New Zealand serve this music well. Uwe Grodd chooses his tempos wisely and finds the right mood for each section, be it uplifting or sombre, sunny or dark, to which his choir and period-instrument orchestra respond willingly and competently..."

Philip Anson
La Scena Musicale

"World premiere recordings of Austro-Hungarian composer Johan Baptist Vanhal's (1739-1813) Missa Pastoralis in G major and Missa Solemnis in C major. These are works of considerable Mozartian/Haydnesque charm and interest, newly edited by Naxos-owned Artaria Editions. The music was recorded in a New Zealand cathedral during the 2000 International Chamber Music Festival with Canadian soloists Mary Enid Haines, Stephen Pitkanen, Colin Ainsworth, and Nina Scott Stoddart. ...Canada's Aradia Ensemble offers good, clean, characterful accompaniment. The Tower Voices New Zealand chamber choir is firm, full, and steady. The cathedral acoustics are natural and close. Notes in English, French, Spanish. Texts in Latin and English."

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