Franz Joseph HAYDN
Symphonies 70 - 81
Austro Hungarian Haydn Orchestra
- Adam Fischer.
Symphonies 70, 71 and 73, June 1997, and Symphonies 72 and 74 - 81,
May 1998. recorded in the Haydnsaal, Esterhazy Palace, Eisenstadt, Austria.
Nimbus NI56525 [4 hours
through MusicWeb for £23.00 postage
Here is the next extremely competitively priced box in Nimbus's series of
the complete symphonies of Haydn. There is only one further box to go, and
if that is as well presented as this issue (and all of the others), collectors
like myself who have been buying them as they have been released will have
a very good collection of these works. The recordings in this series were
started in 1987, with the sets starting to appear in 1994.
Nimbus is to be congratulated for their enterprise in continuing with this
series given the current state of the recording industry, and it is my hope
that the last set will be issued as originally planned. So many other projects
of this nature have been suspended by the major companies, so let's hope
that Nimbus will continue.
What about these discs themselves - some critics have been a little lukewarm
about this series because of the recordings (somewhat resonant) and the playing
(non period instruments - heresy). It is a blight on our appreciation of
music of this kind that it should be emaciated and in some cases downright
uncomfortable to listen to in the interests of having period instruments
for their own sake.
These recordings are certainly not like this. Adam Fischer has developed
the playing style of his orchestra (members of the Vienna P.O., Vienna S.O
and Hungarian State Orchestras), all volunteers for this project. He has
tried to encourage the mid-European style of playing where phrasing is all
important, which leads these performances to have a vitality and immediacy
which is becoming increasingly rare these days.
The performances tingle with life and they always maintain interest, the
only drawback with this set being that the Symphonies on offer are not likely
to be well known to the general public. However, in a complete set of 104
symphonies (or more, if you take into account the latest scholarship), as
the series comes to an end, this is inevitable.
Named Symphonies in this batch are thin on the ground. We have No. 73 in
D Major (La Chasse), as the only exception. By the time Haydn had reached
no. 70 he was an accomplished symphonist, and all 12 works in this set are
good examples of his craft. They perhaps do not show the absolute mastery
which pervades the "London", or "Paris" sets of symphonies, but they are
far more than mere 'sausage machine' compositions, written to provide music
fare for the houshold of Haydn's wealthy patron.
Slow introductions to first movements had not yet become the norm with Haydn
and so we only have three examples of this within the twelve. Most of the
first movements are beautifully turned in with most lively playing, a feature
of the whole project. I cannot recommend this set too highly, and if you
feel somewhat sympathetic to my attitude towards original instruments, you
will experience sustained pleasure and joy from these works.