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James H. North
Fanfare, July 2009

The singers are each excellent, both in the dramatic recitatives and in ensemble. The sound of the WDR stereo recording is decent and honest.

Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, June 2009

WDR broadcasts from Cologne offer wonderful performances by Cappella Coloniensis, of clarinet concertos by Carl and Johann Stamitz (Phoenix177) Cherubini’s Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn, beautifully sung by Marilyn Schmiege, Martyn Hill and Paolo Barbacini and Symphony in D Major (Phoenix175), symphonies by Gossec, Vanhal, Mahaut and Kraus (Phoenix174), flute concertos by Frederick the Great, Telemann and Fasch (Phoenix172), overtures by Heinchen, Graupner (with prominent use of a pair of clarinets), Fasch and Graun (noticeably old fashioned) (Phoenix173), and a Haydn disc featuring several cantatas, well sung by Schmiege, the Fourth Violin Concerto, well played by Ingrid Siefert and the Symphony No.92 (Phoenix176). All these discs are worthwhile, but the symphonies, Haydn and Cherubini discs are essential.

Steven J Haller
American Record Guide, May 2009

Cherubini wrote [Dirge on the Death of Joseph Haydn]  in January 1805 after reading in the paper—erroneously, as it turned out—that Haydn had just died. No doubt the two gentlemen had quite a good laugh over that when they met in Vienna 10 months later. Accordingly, Cherubini immediately had all printed copies of the score destroyed, not to be performed in public until four years later in 1809 (some sources give 1810) on the occasion of Haydn’s actual passing. Cherubini based the piece on a motif from The Creation and adopted orchestral forces commensurate with Haydn’s London Symphonies.

The sonorous chorale in the trombones reminds us Haydn was a Freemason—in fact the work was originally commissioned by a French Masonic lodge—and much as in The Creation the musical line unfolds ever so gradually as if from some vast void, grumbling basses joined by the other string choirs in turn, yet even at full strength each choir speaks in its own voice. Hushed reverence builds to a climax as the Masonic trombones once again intone, then subsides over the throbbing of the drums to usher in the soloists—tenors Martyn Hill and Paolo Barbacini and soprano Marilyn Schmiege, wonderfully fervent and freshvoiced all—who eulogize Haydn as “a singer beloved of the Gods (whose music) will mingle with the hymns of Heaven”. In lesser hands such florid prose might easily strike the listener today as hopelessly banal, yet given Cherubini’s absolute mastery of lyricism and the overwhelming need for consolation it all rings true, a minor masterpiece fully worthy of mention alongside the inspired examples of Haydn himself—all the more so in this noble and uplifting presentation.

… Everything falls perfectly into place [in the Symphony], every tempo seems ideally chosen, and the great affection of the Cologne players is everywhere evident. Ferro knows better than to turn the trenchant finale into a horse race like some other conductors I could mention, and he even manages to surmount the tedious triplet rhythm of the Minuet (I still say sextolets would flow a lot better), here entirely seamless and fluid. Even more fascinating is the cascade of Rossinian woodwinds that launches the opening movement Allegro (1:56) as well as sundry other touches that suggest Ferro may be working from an entirely different edition than everyone else—could someone at Phoenix Edition confirm that?

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, April 2009

I tend to relish all releases of Cherubini scores and this disc from the Phoenix Edition label is no exception…As a strong advocate of Cherubini’s music I believe that the most enduring section of his output is his often revelatory sacred music…The first work on this Phoenix Edition disc is the Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn (Dirge on the Death of Joseph Haydn)a funeral cantata for three solo voices and orchestra. In 1805 Cherubini had completed the score in response to the incorrect news in a London magazine circulated around Europe in 1804 that Haydn, then aged in his seventies, had died. The French Masonic lodge named The True Measure of Masonic Society commissioned the score from Cherubini, a Freemason, to compose a funeral cantata in memoriam of the death of Haydn, who was also one of the Masonic brethren. For the Dirge on the Death of Haydn Cherubini set texts by Masonic author Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor. These are workaday verses that pertain to a dying swan on the banks of the River Danube. Imagine the embarrassment as Cherubini had already circulated printed copies of the score before the news arrived that Haydn had, in fact, not died. It seems that the score was not performed until 1810.

The Chant sur la mort sung to French texts is divided into five sections commencing with a dignified orchestral introduction. There is an undercurrent of unsettling foreboding provided by the dark colouration of low strings and wind. The weight and intensity of the orchestral textures increases at 5:50–6:19 cranking up further at 6:50–7:50. In the first Coryphaeus the tenor Martyn Hill sings a lament Amans des nobles Soeurs and in the following Coryphaeus the second tenor Paolo Barbacini conveys a distinct Italianate quality to the aria A ses tendres accents. The extremely brief soprano aria Non ce feu createur sung by Marilyn Schmiege is followed by a trio L'un et l'autre est vainqueur. Marked Maestoso this uplifting trio for soprano and two tenors could have come straight from one of Cherubini’s operas. Glorious and impassioned singing at 8:17–8:33 especially from Marilyn Schmiege.

The better known of the two scores on this re-issue is Cherubini’s Symphony in D major. The Symphony formed part of a £200 commission from, the then, recently established Philharmonic Society of London in 1815. Evidently the four movement D major Symphony was not a success when first performed and the dissatisfied Cherubini subjected the work to considerable revision; even arranging the greatly altered score into his String Quartet No. 2 in C major (1829)…I was impressed with this Phoenix version of the Symphony in D major. However, I consider that the finest recording is from the Orchestra Sinfonica di Sanremo conducted by Piero Bellugi on Naxos [8.557908]. Bellugi and his Sanremo Orchestra provide a characterful performance of great spirit that effortlessly engages the listener. Bellugi has given much attention to his performance and together with a good sound quality it becomes the first choice version.

At only 55 minutes the playing time on this Phoenix Edition disc is not over-generous…The sound quality is vividly clear and well balanced.

James Manheim, February 2009

Luigi Cherubini’s Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn was not, in the event, written after Haydn’s death in 1809, but in response to a premature report of that event in 1804. The revival of Classical-period music has thus far given Cherubini short shrift, which is surprising in connection with the man whom Beethoven called the greatest living composer. Maybe this German release, by the veteran historical-instrument ensemble Cappella Coloniensis, will stimulate fresh activity. The chief attraction here is the seldom recorded tribute to Haydn. It’s a wonderful work, with an unorthodox form that seems to bespeak strong feeling. Cherubini worked from an existing funeral text by Masonic author Louis Guillemain de Saint-Victor, but the shape of the piece is his own. He opens with a slow, profound polyphonic introduction that not only must have appealed to Beethoven but perhaps even influenced the idiom of his late works. After that come three short verses set as orchestral recitatives, and then a multi-part finale for three solo voices and orchestra, beginning with an inadequately translated line of recitative—“Both [Haydn’s name and his soul] are victors over death and time”—that gives forth onto a kind of noble melody that again evokes Beethoven. The music ought to be of interest far beyond those specifically interested in Beethoven’s era, and it could serve a memorial purpose for any musician. The Cappella Coloniensis, here and in the more common Symphony in D major that rounds out the disc, catches the majestic yet personal tone of the music in purring string textures and doesn’t go beyond the medium-sized dimensions of the music…the purchase of this album can be enthusiastically recommended.

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