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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 88 in G Hob I:88 [20:29]
Sinfonia Concertante in B flat Hob I:105 [19:48]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Serenade for Strings in G K525 “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” [14:20]
Symphony No. 36 in C K425 “Linz” [22:07]
Danish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Busch
rec. Copenhagen, November 1949 (Symphonies); October 1948 (Serenade); January 1951 (Sinfonia Concertante)
GUILD GHCD2339 [77:19]
Experience Classicsonline

The principal virtue of the famous early Glyndebourne recordings of Mozart’s Da Ponte operas is the conducting of Fritz Busch. Neither ponderous nor glib, it is always alive to the changing character of the music and to its dramatic qualities. All too little else is available to demonstrate his art so that this disc is a valuable addition, especially in respect of the two Mozart items.
The “Linz” Symphony is the highlight of the disc. I believe that Stravinsky said of Bruno Walter’s recorded rehearsal of the work that he often asked the orchestra to sing but never to dance. That cannot be said of this recording which manages to combine an understanding of the singing nature of the melodic lines with an irresistible feeling for the underlying dance rhythms. It is worth the price of the disc for this alone, but provided that you can respond to large-scale performances of “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” that performance is also well worth hearing.
Curiously the same does not apply to the Haydn to anything like the same extent. The Symphony comes first on the disc and the very slow tempo of the introduction to the first movement robs it of momentum and takes away much of its character. The tempi in the rest of the Symphony are not all slow, but somehow the flair for rhythm which is one of the great features of Busch’s Mozart performances deserts him as does, to my ears at least, that sense of spontaneity and the ability to change character in a moment that is so necessary in Haydn. This effect is added to by a dull recording quality which seems to put a veil between the listener and the performance. The recording quality in the other works is certainly not good, but is significantly better than it is for this Symphony.
The soloists in the Sinfonia Concertante are not named – a surprising omission as they well deserve individual recognition – but presumably they are the orchestral principals. Even if as a whole the performance does not catch fire as does the Mozart Symphony, it is played with refinement and care and is thoroughly enjoyable if not outstandingly memorable.
But I come back to the Mozart items. Both have that kind of instinctive and unselfconscious understanding of the music which was so typical of the earlier Glyndebourne recordings. Even if like me you find the Haydn disappointing the disc is well worth having for these pieces alone.
John Sheppard
see also review by Jonathan Woolf


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