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Franz Josef HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 101 in D The Clock [27:55]
Overture in D [3:55]
Trumpet Concerto in E-Flat [15:02]
Symphony No. 100 in G Military [21:12]
The Vienna Symphony/Fritz Busch
Niederösterreichisches Tonkünstler Orchester/Fritz Busch
Adolf Holler, trumpet
Recordings made in 1950, Vienna. Specific locations and dates not listed. Mono.
ARCHIPEL ARPCD 0227 [68:23]

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Fritz Busch was one of five remarkable sons of the German instrument-maker Wilhelm Busch. Often confused with his more famous brother Adolf, the violinist and eventual father-in-law to Rudolf Serkin, Busch is recognized as one of the major conductors of the twentieth century. His career was cut short by a heart attack that claimed his life in 1951.

These are performances that generate a certain sense of nostalgia for those of us who began listening to music before the age of period instruments and historically informed performance practice. There is a certain grandeur and stateliness about them that is no longer really acceptable. At the same time, however, they lack the elegance and grace of more recent recordings.

Some things work rather well. The “Clock” symphony is rendered at perfectly acceptable tempi, but the minuet suffers from boots that are too heavy in which to dance. Additionally, the strings simply play with too heavy a bow stroke, and as an ensemble, the whole affair becomes too thick and heavy.

The little overture is a mere trifle, but at least it is a pleasant one.

Of all the works on this disc, the trumpet concerto fares the worst. The tempo choices are too grand for virtuosic displays, and the whole rendition sounds more like a student effort that that of a major professional soloist. One need only to hear Wynton Marsalis play this piece to realize how far we have come since 1950. Herr Holler displays no special flair for the piece, giving it a rather run of the mill, phoned in performance, complete with some pretty serious intonation problems in the slow movement.

The “Military” symphony, so named for its colorful use of percussion instrument fares best, and the rollicking finale is actually pretty thrilling.

Archipel boast of “Hi-end Restoration Technology” but the complete lack of performer biographies, program notes and commentary on the performances themselves leave us with a giant “so-what” to their so-called High-end presentations. This is a project done on the cheap, with questionable editing in a couple of notable instances. (Symphony 100’s second movement ends so abruptly that we are jarred out of our seats.) Sound quality is on the whole acceptable, although a bit boxy. This one is for die-hard collectors, historical recording fanatics and followers of this conductor.

Sadly mediocre.

Kevin Sutton



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