Patrick Gallois / Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra

Michael Haydn: Symphonies, Vol. 2

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This is part of a series of releases on the Naxos label devoted to the 40 symphonies of Michael Haydn, younger brother of Franz Joseph. These have been commercially successful, and it's easy to see why: there's music of unsuspected high quality here, and you can see why the younger Haydn's work was taken for Mozart's in several cases for decades, and why Mozart, who was spare in his praise of other composers, bestowed it upon this one. All four of these symphonies are in the three-movement form that Mozart had mostly left behind by the late 1770s and 1780s (when the Haydn works were composed), but the individual movements are quite confidently handled, with the elegant but harmonically wide-ranging slow movements perhaps the best of the lot. Sample that of the Sinfonia in E flat major marked "Adagietto affettuoso" and making use of string mutes. The booklet makes much of the solo violin and cor anglais in the Sinfonia in F major, but the tightly constructed first movement in the opening Sinfonia in D major, with its weighty slow introduction, is equally noteworthy. The Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice does not produce a silken string tone, but perhaps this was what the music sounded like when first played; it is, in any event, good to have this music on recordings, and you'll come away from it thinking that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was more deeply marked by his time in Salzburg (where Michael Haydn edged out Leopold Mozart for a top job) than you realized.

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