When you hear the name Haydn, chances are you think of the brilliant 18th-century composer Joseph Haydn. But Joseph had a brother Michael who, although not as famous or prolific as Joseph, composed some memorable music.
Music of the Baroque Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by British conductor Dame Jane Glover, will perform selections from Joseph and Michael Haydn at a concert dedicated to the “Haydn Brothers” on May 8 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.
“We’ve been trying to do ‘The Creation’ for two years and COVID has prevented us from doing it,” Glover said. “So we will do it next season. But because we wanted to do a big piece of Haydn, rather brazenly, I thought, we’re going to do “The Creation Mass.” This is one of its major mass parameters. They are little gems. »
To fill the other half of the program, Glover selected “Symphony No. 26 in E-flat major” by Michael Haydn and “Symphony No. 26 in E-flat major, K. 184” by Mozart.
“Michael isn’t very well known – especially compared to Joseph Haydn, one of the joys of the 18th century,” Glover recounted. “Michael Haydn was a bit of a slacker who drank way too much.”
It was a work-related condition, the driver said.
“He got that secure job with the Salzburg music team and he stayed there,” Glover said. “Their salary consisted of a little money, wood for their fires and a liter of wine a day. He was married to a singer who was also entitled to a liter of wine a day and they both drank it.
Because of this, he was sometimes unable to compose. Glover noted that Mozart sometimes bailed him out by composing pieces for him. That’s why Glover decided to include a Mozart symphony in the program.
Glover praised Michael Haydn’s “Symphony No. 26 in E-flat Major,” with some reservations. “He has the same kind of energy and spirit as his brother,” she said. “He doesn’t quite have that sort of dastardly control and kind of Joseph Haydn brilliance.”
Glover will share the brothers’ story at the May 8 concert.
The orchestra will be composed of 35 musicians; there will be 24 singers in the choir. Four soloists will perform: soprano Heidi Stober, mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle; tenor Michael St. Peter and baritone Tyler Duncan.
Bragle has been singing with Music of the Baroque for about 10 years. She praised bandleader Glover. “Jane is amazing. She’s a pioneer in the field as well as a fantastic musician and a wonderful human being,” Bragle said.
Bragle will be soloing on a section of the “Creation Mass”. She noted that Joseph Haydn “is a brilliant composer. He was actually a singer when he was little, so singing his music is really fun. You can say you are dealing with a singer.
The mezzo-soprano added: “There’s always something new you can find in music – a little wink or a nod. The joy that is in this Mass in particular, I find it irresistible.
Bragle’s selection starts the mass. “The music is joyful,” she emphasized. “I’m so glad to have a moment like this, especially in these times.”
Duncan last played with Music of the Baroque in 2019. “What I love most about playing with the band is the level of musicianship,” he said. “Working with Jane is incredible. She is one of the most important conductors in the world and a specialist in baroque music.
Duncan is also solo on “The Creation Mass”, singing the roles of Archangel Raphael and Adam.
“It’s incredible music; it’s vocal acrobatics,” Duncan said. “It goes to the extreme tessitura of the voices of the three soloists. You get these amazing tour de force arias and incredibly descriptive recitatives.
The baritone added: “I can talk about big whales, roaring lions and leaping tigers. And what’s amazing about this piece is that the lyrics and the music paint pictures of these animals and these huge hailstorms. The world had never heard before how he spins colors and creates so much character in music.
The Haydn Brothers
When: 7:30 p.m. May 8
Or: Music from the Baroque Choir and Orchestra at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie, 9501 Skokie Blvd., Skokie
Information: 847-673-6300; northshorecenter.org/event/the-brothers-haydn
Myrna Petlicki is a freelance journalist for Pioneer Press.