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Sanctuary Classics

Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 80 in D. Minor* (1783/4) [23:12]
Symphony No. 87 in A* (1785) [24:35]
Symphony No. 89 in F* (1787) [21:07]
Symphony No. 83 in G minor** (1785) [22:49]
Symphony No. 84 in E flat** (1786) [22:46]
Symphony No. 88 in G** (?1787) [20:19]
London Mozart Players/Jane Glover
rec.* St. Peterís Church, Morden, 18-19 July 1988; ** St. Peterís Church, Morden, January 1989
SANCTUARY RSB 203 [69:42 + 67:01]

This reissued material (formerly on ASV) offers generally very enjoyable performances of some marvellous music, in decent if unremarkable sound.

Gloverís conducting emphasises the intellectual substance of much of this music rather than its superficial elegance and these are persuasive readings. No. 80, not especially well-known, is remarkable for the way in which its dramatic and troubled opening suddenly melts away into a pleasant quasi-waltz of a second subject. Glover brings off the effect well. The finale is well-handled too, as its hesitant opening evolves into an affirmative but thoughtful conclusion.

No. 87 is one of the six so-called Paris symphonies (Nos. 82-87), commissioned by the Masonic organisation of the Concert de la Loge Olympique; three of them are recorded here. No. 87 has attracted less attention than some of its fellows, though it is a fascinating work. The bass and bassoon quavers in the first subject of the vivace first movement are well played, as are the flute and oboe solos in the beautifully singing andante which follows. The oboist again acquits him/herself well in the third-movement trio, and the finale, again marked vivace, is convincingly untroubled. The first CD closes with No. 89, in which the bassoon solos of the first movement are played with appropriate charm - as Robbins Landon suggests, this symphony retains more of the rococo than much of Haydnís music of this period. Conductor and orchestra do justice to the finaleís energy and the distinctive effect of the passages marked strascinando (dragging).

No. 83, ĎLa Pouleí opens the second CD. Glover and her forces obviously enjoy and very effectively communicate the abrupt transitions of mood and the delightful humour of the first movement. In the andante the flutes and the horns are sure-footed and the bucolic dance of the menuet is well characterised. The striking and complex finale works pretty well, though a slightly more transparent sound quality would have helped. No. 84, like No. 87, has been partially overshadowed by some its Parisian fellows, but has much to offer. The opening movement is a joy, with a beautiful opening largo and a radiantly witty allegro to follow. The variations of the second movement are delightful and the formal wit of the finale is Haydn at something like his best.

It was of the slow movement of No.88 that Brahms is said to have observed "I want my Ninth Symphony to sound like that" and there is an expansiveness to its performance here that might reasonably be described as Brahmsian. This is one of Haydnís greatest symphonic slow movements and this performance makes its case persuasively. There is a slightly excessive politeness to the rustic menuetto, though, and the finale isnít, I think, quite as well-shaped and balanced as much of the playing on these discs.

In general, though, these are very recommendable recordings. Gloverís understanding of the music is clear, and all sections of the London Mozart Players are thoroughly competent. These are not, it has to be said, performances which have the energy and textual clarity of, say, Sigiswald Kuijken and La Petite Bande or the startling vivacity of Harnoncourt and Concentus Musicus Wien, but in an older style of Haydn performance they deserve an honourable place.

Glyn Pursglove



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