Haydn: Songs and Cantatas

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Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn
Artists: Emma Kirkby (soprano)
Marcia Hadjimarkos (fortepiano)
This CD contains the remarkable cantata Arianna a Naxos Haydn composed in 1789. Unlike the later cantata Berenice composed in London in 1795, Arianne is not scored for orchestra. Here the piano is given a virtuoso role especially in the recitatives. The drama of Arianna’s desertion by Theseus is superbly realised by Haydn.

In September 1800, Lord Nelson, fresh from his victory over the French in the Battle of the Nile in 1797, visited Eisenstadt, together with Lord and Lady Hamilton. Lady Hamilton asked to sing Arianne during her visit. A member of the British party at Eisenstadt, Cornelia White asked Haydn to set words she had written celebrating Nelson’s famous victory. He obliged with the cantata ‘Lines from the Battle of the Nile’, and work was performed by Emma Hamilton with Haydn at the piano.

The songs on this CD all resulted from a dinner in Vienna on December 1790. Haydn, Mozart and the violinist and impresario Salomon were discussing Haydn’s trip to London. It was on this trip that Haydn became friendly with Anne Hunter, a talented poet, and wife of the eminent surgeon John Hunter. She was a friend of Walpole, and soon Haydn was in the ‘polite society’ of London. Anne either supplied the text, or selected texts by other writers, especially Shakespeare. This was a happy time in Haydn’s life, and the songs are heartfelt, and emotional, foreshadowing the romanticism of Schubert, and reflecting possibly the romantic attachments the composer had made in London.
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Tracklist:

0:00:00 The Wanderer
0:03:54 Piercing Eyes
0:05:32 The Spirit’s Song
0:10:07 Fidelity
0:13:22 O Tuneful Voice
0:18:05 Arianna a Naxos
0:32:00 A Pastoral Song
0:35:16 Recollection
0:40:29 The Battle of the Nile
0:51:08 She never told her love
0:54:23 The Lady’s Looking Glass

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