Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 31 in D major, Hob. I:31, Horn signal (1765) [32.05]
Symphony No. 70 in D major, Hob. I:70 (1779) [18.09]
Symphony No. 101 in D major, Hob. I:101, The Clock (1794) [26.50]
Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Robin Ticciati
rec. 31 January, 1-2, 7-8 February 2015, Usher Hall, Edinburgh
LINN RECORDS SACD CKD500 [77.00]
The first time I came across Robin Ticciati was in 2011. He was conducting the Hallé at the Bridgewater Hall in a programme of Berlioz, Mozart and Brahms. This fearsomely gifted young conductor had already been appointed principal conductor of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and since then has become music director of Glyndebourne Festival Opera. For this fourth Linn album Ticciati has turned his attention to Haydn with three symphonies all in the key of D major. With each symphony being written in a different period of Haydn’s career it is pleasing to have a perspective on the composer’s development.
The opening work Symphony No. 31 was composed in 1765 during his early years in the employment of the Esterházy Court at Eisenstadt. In his chamber-sized orchestra uncommonly Haydn had four horn players available to him a group that he accommodates significantly in the score. In 1779 the opera house on the Esterházy estate was burnt down and the relatively short Symphony No. 70 was written to mark the laying of the foundation stone at the start of building work on the new opera house. Ninth in the set of twelve London Symphonies the Symphony No. 101 was written in 1794 and introduced in the same year in Hanover Square, London at one of Salomon’s Haydn concerts. The ticking figures in the second movement are the reason for the nickname The Clock.
Essentially a modern instrument ensemble the Scottish Chamber Orchestra here under Ticciati mixes in elements of period performance practice such as natural horns and trumpets, a fortepiano, spare use of vibrato and hard timpani sticks. Ticciati negotiates the challenges with palpable ease yet curiously I’ve never noticed Haydn’s tempi changes as clearly differentiated as demonstrated here. Captivating is Ticciati’s Allegros invigorating fresh of unabashed buoyancy with tranquil Andantes and his stately and rhythmic Minuets are always disarming. Recorded earlier this year at Usher Hall, Edinburgh the sound team for Linn has produced excellent sonics on this hybrid SACD that on my standard player comes across as vividly clear and well balanced. Three model essays by Martin Ennis, Richard Taruskin and John Humphries complete the desirability of this excellently presented release.
On Linn Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra excel with fresh and responsive accounts of this well chosen trio. For those looking for a complete set of Haydn symphonies it is hard to ignore the merits of the engaging accounts by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra under Adam Fischer recorded in 1987/2001 at Haydnsaal, Esterházy Palace at Eisenstadt (Brilliant).
Simon Thompson (Recording of the Month)