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.
The name of Martha Argerich on any label always means fire, and so it is here. She and Gidon Kremer play with quite exceptional urgency and temperament, and the bright, clear recording brings up both instruments with a sheen. In fact the music springs at you with such immediacy that anyone previously of the opinion that Schumann was showing signs of tiredness in these latish works will be compelled to think again.
The historical-performance movement has extended its reach into much of the 19th century, but this is the world-premiere recording of Robert Schumann's trios on historical instruments. Actually only the piano dates from Schumann's lifetime, but it's especially the violin and cello that differ markedly from their contemporary counterparts with their gut strings. The result is a pair of Schumann chamber music performances of a quieter cast than the common run, yet also moody and full of strong affect and characterization.
The exceptional and unaffected Martha Argerich gives here a spellbinding performance of Schumann's Piano Concerto.
This is exceptional. There are certainly many different valid ways to perform the Missa solemnis, but it's hard to imagine they will surpass this outstanding version…The Royal Concertgebouw is on absolutely top form…As for the soloists, it is hard to recall a Solemnis quartet who blend so well while retaining their mesmeric individuality. (BBC Music Magazine)