The celebratory cantata Applausus (1768) was commissioned in honour of the abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Zwettl; because Haydn was unable to be present, he accompanied the work with a long and informative letter on performing practice.
Although The Creation is no stranger to period-instrument performance, two in particular spring to mind as particularly outstanding. The first of these is Christopher Hogwood's on L'Oiseau-Lyre, which is in English and remains the only version to assemble the huge forces for which Haydn actually wrote, with singularly thrilling results. Second, there is Hengelbrock on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, who demonstrated that at least on recordings the music can sound just as big and colorful, but without extensive doubling of instrumental parts. In his version of The Seasons, René Jacobs accomplished a similar feat, and so does this newcomer, even outdoing Hengelbrock in wringing every last drop of color from Haydn's perennially fresh orchestration. All of the other period performances, including Brüggen, Weil, Harnoncourt (twice), Kuijken, and Gardener, stand at some remove from these three.
Every expectation about Handel's Italian operas gets turned on its head in his penultimate effort in the genre, "Imeneo" (first performed in 1740). It isn't long (just over 2 hours of music), the plot isn't complicated (young woman torn between love and duty to her community must choose between 2 men), and its scenic requirements are simple (it can be performed on a single set). One contemporary called it an "operetta," i.e, a "little opera." But if in one sense it's a Handel opera in miniature, the passions run as strong as in any of the bigger pieces. And like the 2 works that flank it, "Serse" and "Deidamia," "Imeneo" has a distinctive tone that combines touches of ironic humor with absolute seriousness. Above all, the score exudes freshness and charm…
In honour of Haydn's bicentenary CPO are delighted to present a rarely recorded work; Haydn's two act singspiel Die Feuersbrunst oder das abgebrannte Haus (The Conflagration or The Burned House).