Haydn: Symphonies 35, 38, 39, 49, 58, & 59 / Solomons, L'Estro Armonico

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These performances are distinguished by their clean textures, rhythmic precision, and some spectacular high horn-playing. It would be hard to imagine performances of more freshness and conviction.

The most remarkable of [these works] are the two minor-key symphonies that reflect the influence of the Sturm und Drang ("Storm and Stress") movement in German literature of the time: the impassioned No. 39 in G minor with its four horns, which inspired similar works in the same key by J. C. Bach, Vanhal and Mozart, and the sombre No, 49 in F minor, known as La passione and the last and greatest of Haydn's symphonies in the form of the sonata do chiesa (with the slow movement placed first). Of the other four works, No. 38 in C - in Haydn's festive manner - with trumpets and drums and C alto horns, is particularly striking not least because of its stunning, concertonle oboe solo in the finale, probably written, as H. C. Robbins Landon suggests in the accompanying booklet, to show oft the Esterházy orchestra's new oboist Vittorino Colombazzo. No. 59 in A, known as the Fire for reasons that remain obscure, is full of excitement and dramatic surprises, such as the totally unexpected entry of the oboes and horns two-thirds of the way through the slow movement, and the extraordinary fortissimo horn call that interrupts the return of the main theme a few bars later. No. 35 in B flat is on the whole a sunny, exuberant work, though with an unexpected outburst of passionate counterpoint in the first movement's development section; and No. 58 in F has an almost chamber-musical intimacy and boasts an amusing menuet alla zoppa ("Limping Minuet") that frames a dark-hued Trio that sounds, in Landon's words,, "rather as if a group of slightly sinister Gypsies had suddently entered the feast".

The performances are distinguished by their clean textures, rhythmic precision and nice feeling for tempo; there is a tasteful, and never obtrusive, harpsichord continuo and some spectacular high horn-playing. Perhaps the two minor-key symphonies could do with rather more weight and intensity, but on the whole it would be hard to imagine performances of more freshness and conviction. Even the tendency towards short-breathed phrases in the slow movements and to vibrato-less bulges in the string playing seem less noticeable than before. The recording is every bit as vivid as were the earlier ones [released on Saga Records, now unavailable]—and that is high praise.

-- Gramophone [7/1982]

Product Description:

  • Release Date: July 08, 2010

  • Catalog Number: SONY37861

  • UPC: 074643786126

  • Label: Sony

  • Number of Discs: 2

  • Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn

  • Conductor: Derek Solomons

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: L'Estro Armonico