Haydn’s ‘Nelson’ Mass – Work No. 75 in our collection

Joseph Haydn (31.03.1732 – 31.05.1809) was an Austrian composer of the Classical period. For most of his working life Haydn was a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family at their remote estate and thus isolated from many other musical influences. Joseph Haydn was a very influential composer and he was a friend and mentor of Mozart, a teacher of Beethoven, and the older brother of composer Michael Haydn. He played a major role in in the development of such forms of chamber music as the piano trio and the string quartet. Haydn  wrote over a hundred symphonies leading to him acquiring the epithet “Father of the Symphony”, even if that is not exactly true!

Joseph Haydn

Haydn also wrote a number of masses, of which his Mass, Hob. XXII:11 in D minor ‘Nelsonmesse’ is arguably the most popular. This ‘Mass for troubled times’ is one of the six masses written near the end of Haydn’s life which are, collectively, now widely regarded as the high point of Haydn’s liturgical composition.

Our recommended version of this work is directed by Trevor Pinnock and is available on the DG Archiv label.

Trevor Pinnock performs with The English Concert & Choir together with a fine group of soloists; Dame Felicity Lott (soprano), David Wilson-Johnson (bass), Carolyn Watkinson (contralto) and Maldwyn Davies (tenor). Th distinctive sonority and rapid tempi set this performance apart. Just listen to the opening Kyrie where the hard timpani combine with the trumpets to bite into the dissonance and the strings playing with virtually no vibrato. This is a near perfect performance so just sit back and enjoy it! Furthermore there is the added bonus of a performance of Haydn’s Te Deum in C major – Hob.XXIIIc:2 which serves as more than a mere filler.

Readers who wish to explore Haydn’s masses more widely need look no further than Richard Hickox’ Complete Mass Edition with Collegium Musicum 90 available on the Chandos label as an 8 CD set issued as part of the Chaconne series.

View the other works in our collection.