If, like me, you thought of Michael Haydn as in every way a lesser composer to his big brother, and whose only claim to fame was his Toy Symphony, then this new release from CPO can put you right in a big way.
Endimione, a serenata, was written as entertainment and a musical tribute for the court at Salzburg. From the early 17th century, these evening entertainments took place in the palace and then from 1720 in the Palace Theatre where more and more they came to resemble opera and became known as 'azione teatrali' or 'operette'.
Amongst many others, Mozart contributed two, Il sogno di Scipione in 1772 and Il re pastore in 1775, and that was followed by Michael Haydn's Endimione in 1776, the text for which was written 55 years previously by Metastasio. That text was used at least twenty times and thus well known. As the works were considered ephemeral, the scores were not printed but for this production the score from the Salzburg court copyist was used and Mozart, who knew and liked Michael Haydn, had another.
The mythological story of is of the love, intrigue and jealousy of Diana the goddess of the hunt, Nike her companion, Endymion a shepherd and Amor the god of love disguised as the hunter Alcestis.
This recording will undoubtedly show off Michael Haydn in a new light with surprising coloratura and some beautiful duets. The Salzburg Hofmusik performs on original instruments under the direction of Wolfgang Brunner whose understanding and love of the work amply shines through.
Reviewer: Paul Foss