Through the decade of the 1990's, director John Singleton was known best, of course, for 1991's Boyz N the Hood, and his 2001 companion film Baby Boy is a similarly structured urban drama involving the disadvantages and trials of African American black men in urban settings. The film is once again a challenging look at the central themes that Singleton often raises in his projects, and while critics praised his ability to maintain a realistic perspective within the genre, many black audiences were less than pleased about the stereotypical portrayals of gang-tempted blacks in predictable and disappointing situations. Many viewers agreed, however, that Singleton's film presented far more questions than answers. An interesting answer to one question was David Arnold, whose hiring to write the music for the project was considered a curious move by the fans of the composer only familiar with his small body of soundtrack work. The British composer was widely recognized as the composer of several very large-scale orchestral film scores of the 1990's in America, and the last genre that came to mind when most fans thought of Arnold was rhythm & blues. And yet, Arnold's fans should never have been surprised that he could pull it off, because his ability to adapt his talents to several different genres, whether pop, electronica, jazz, or orchestral, is well established.
Haydn's Paukenmesse, Hob.XXII:9 from 1796, was the first work he composed to honour the name day (8th September) of the Princess Maria Hermenegild. The name of Paukenmesse’ (Kettledrum Mass) stems from the employment of timpani in the Agnus Dei; evocative of hearing the advance of the enemy. At the time of composition the French armies had occupied the state of Styria in southeast Austria.
Of the two oratorios Haydn wrote in his old age The Creation is the more dramatic and immediate while The Seasons is more idyllic. It’s also a good deal longer, which to some extent explains why The Creation is regularly performed while its country cousin is a comparatively rare visitor to the concert hall. There is no denying that the later work contains a lot of good music and has a more folksy character; Austrian folk music is never far away. It is also has a more leisurely pace with long stretches of admittedly beautiful but slow and restrained music. There are moments of drama also, for example the end of part II, Summer (CD1 tracks 16 – 18), where in the recitative the soloists build up the tension. This describes how the air changes, the sky turns black, “the muted roar from the valley that announces the furious tempest”. We hear the timpani murmuring in the distance and suddenly lightning flashes, the thunder rolls and the people (the chorus) are dismayed and frightened. Harnoncourt makes the most of this, rhythmically alert and backed up by the excellent Arnold Schönberg-Choir. Suddenly the thunderstorm is over, the sun looks out again and the soloists and the choir rejoice.