Described by scholar HC Robbins Landon as ‘arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition’, the Missa in angustiis’ or troubled times was a triumph over adversity. In war-torn 1798 when Prince Nicolaus II had sent the wind players home to save money, Haydn embarked on a Mass for only strings, organ, trumpets and timpani. The result – a lean, fiery work of symphonic drama, with a spectacular Kyrie for soprano – has become one of his best-loved works. First performed on the day Nelson defeated Napoleon at the Battle of the Nile, it acquired its nickname.
The Mass is prefaced with Haydn’s darkly turbulent ‘Trauer’ (mourning) Symphony.