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Michael Haydn’s oratorio forms the freestanding middle portion of a three-part work whose outer sections were written by different composers – a not uncommon occurrence in the 18th century. It was composed in 1768 to show off the qualities of three Italian sopranos brought back to Salzburg by the Prince-Archbishop. Their modern day successors do a fine job with a libretto that is effectively a treatise on the importance of obedience to God and a warning to live a righteous life. There is some lovely music in this work: an exquisite aria with horn obbligato and a powerful depiction of the Last Judgment are among the most memorable. Vashegyi guides an involving reading of this fascinating work, exploiting Haydn’s typically Salzburgian Sturm und Drang orchestral writing to extract every ounce of drama. Well worth investigating.

PHILIP REED Read the full review on Agora Classica


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