Esterhazy Recordings - Haydn: Symphonies Vol 2 / A. Fischer

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Fischer brings his Haydn cycle to a more than satisfying conclusion with this superb volume.

Adám Fischer and the Austro­Hungarian Haydn Orchestra go from strength to strength. This culminating volume of their Haydn symphony cycle – built up over 14 years – is in many ways the most enjoyable of all‚ not just because it covers a fascinating range of works written in the 1760s‚ when the young Haydn was busy experimenting‚ but in the performances too. In most previous volumes the advantages of Fischer’s cycle as against those of Antál Dorati’s ever­fresh pioneering Decca cycle‚ have been relatively slight. Here the new performances‚ with lighter‚ more transparent textures and generally faster speeds‚ take far more note of period practice while staying faithful to modern instruments. More than ever one registers the individual virtuosity of the various soloists in the orchestra‚ often challenged to the limit by fast speeds. So a movement such as the variation finale of No 31‚ The Hornsignal‚ features a sequence of brilliant soloists such as Haydn himself might have been writing for in the Esterházy orchestra – violin‚ cello‚ horn and so on‚ even double­bass. That symphony‚ in Professor Robbins Landon’s description one of the most spectacular of the early works‚ is here presented with panache‚ with the four horns braying out superbly‚ and the fast opening Allegro adding to the intensity. The immediately preceding symphony‚ No 30‚ nicknamed Alleluia after the chant quoted‚ is hardly less striking‚ the more so here when Fischer has adopted‚ with brilliant results‚ the option for this C major work of having trumpets and drums as well as horns – a later addition as Robbins Landon suggests in Volume 1 of his monumental Chronicle and Works (Thames &Hudson: 1976­78). The horns are prominent throughout these performances‚ helped by the recording balance‚ bringing out the boldness of inspiration. Symphonies Nos 30 and 31 evidently date from 1765‚ but generally the regular numbered sequence from the old Breitkopf edition is even more misleading than usual. So No 26 in D minor‚ Lamentation‚ another work that quotes a chant‚ is in the darkly intense Sturm und Drang style of the middle symphonies‚ where No 37 in C is evidently one of the earliest works here‚ dating from the brief period from 1759 when Haydn was Kapellmeister to Count Morzin. Fischer in the Lamentation Symphony again makes the music more biting with his emphasis on sharp dynamic contrasts and his very fast Allegro – faster even than with Christopher Hogwood in his period performance on L’Oiseau­Lyre (4/94). Even more strikingly‚ No 39 in G minor‚ the last of the numbered symphonies here‚ is a wonderful example of Sturm und Drang‚ enhanced by Fischer at the start by the way he exaggerates the pauses between the nervily tentative opening phrases‚ leading to the fierce and urgent Allegro. The finale too is vehemently Sturm und Drang‚ with its rushing strings and four horns‚ again brilliantly used as in the Hornsignal‚ No 31 – as Robbins Landon puts it‚ ‘a tight­fisted work’. Throughout this set Fischer consistently relishes the originality of scoring‚ as in the Trio of the Minuet of No 29 in E‚ where suddenly in E minor the horns in octaves hold a sustained note‚ an effect made the more eerie here with the strings stilling their vibrato in period style‚ as they regularly do in these performances. The Symphonies ‘A’ and ‘B’‚ the one dating from the Morzin period‚ the other from the early 1760s‚ make an apt supplement as they come from the same period. These are both works which were only identified as symphonies rather than string quartets when in recent years wind parts were discovered. Whether or not Fischer and his orchestra of selected players from Vienna and Budapest will go on to record other supplementary works and alternative versions (for another record company following Nimbus’s demise)‚ as Dorati did‚ theirs is a superb achievement‚ with the cycle of numbered symphonies now most satisfyingly completed.

-- Gramophone 1/2002

Product Description:

  • Release Date: September 01, 2002

  • Catalog Number: NI5683-7

  • UPC: 710357568329

  • Label: Nimbus

  • Number of Discs: 5

  • Composer: Franz Joseph Haydn

  • Conductor: Adám Fischer

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra