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Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 80 in D minor, H. I:80 (1784) [24:29]
Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major, H. VIIa/1 (c. 1765) [18:59]
Symphony No. 49 in F minor, La Passione H. I:49 (1768) [25:32]
Freiburger Barockorchester/Gottfried von der Goltz (violin and direction)
rec. 2008, no location details given
HARMONIA MUNDI MUSIQUE D'ABORD HMA1952029 [69:19]

Originally released on Harmonia Mundi in 2009 this recent re-issue on the label’s Musique d’Abord series sees period instrument specialists the Freiburger Barockorchester investigate the ‘Sturm und Drang’ aspect of Haydn.

The earlier of the two symphonies contained here is the Symphony No. 49 in F minor, H. I:49. Popularly known as La passione the score was written in 1768 during Haydn’s Sturm und Drang period. It is the last of the six that Haydn wrote in the church sonata format that commences with a slow movement. Biographer H.C. Robbins Landon described it as “a profoundly pessimistic work.” (BBC Music Guide: Haydn Symphonies (1966)).

Gottried von der Goltz directs the Freiburger Barockorchester from the violin and does so with real spirit and affection. Especially well done is the buoyantly determined opening Allegro spiritoso of No. 49 followed by the prominently serene tread of the melancholic Adagio. Next comes the Menuetto sounding so agreeably rhythmic on period instruments. The Finale is taken very briskly with a fresh and vibrant feel to the playing.

Written in 1784 the second symphony here is No. 80 in D minor, H. I:80 which comes some sixteen years later. This forms part of a trio of symphonies that includes Nos. 79 and 81 composed for sale to his publisher Antaria. This is Haydn returning to the Sturm und Drang style he had seemingly put on hold some ten years earlier. Haydn here “skilfully mixes Sturm und Drang and galant idioms” (Oxford Composer Companions: Haydn, ed. David Wyn Jones (2000)).

Goltz has the benefit of a highly talented and enthusiastic group of players who excel in giving a near meditative feel to the comforting opening Adagio. Next comes the effervescent Allegro di molto played with unerring spirit followed by the elegant Menuet which is afforded real dignity by the Freiburg players. It is difficult not to be impressed by the sheer energy of the Finale: Presto the playing of which yet remains in complete control.

A skilled violinist himself, Haydn in the mid-to-late 1760s is acknowledged to have written four violin concertos including a missing D major Concerto, Hob. VIIa/2. The present disc offers the Violin Concerto No. 1 in C major, H. VIIa/1 — a delightful score written for Alois Luigi Tomasini who was to become concertmaster at Esterházy. The work boasts double-stopping and a lovely cantilena Adagio. Goltz’s splendid bow control is commendable as is his noticeable empathy for Haydn’s writing. He demonstrates an intelligent restraint which supersedes any need for theatrical display. In the delightful Adagio I enjoyed the languorous melody for the soloist played over a curiously ticking bass accompaniment.

The sound quality is most agreeable and the booklet notes manage to be both very concise and informative - all adding to the desirability of this disc. This is an outstanding re-issue.

Michael Cookson

Masterwork Index: Haydn symphonies