Haydn 2032: Volume 4 - Il Distratto
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No.60 in C (Il distratto) (1774/5) [26:01]
Symphony No.70 in D (1779) [17:24]
Symphony No.12 in E (1763) [17:08]
Domenico CIMAROSA (1749-1801)
Il maestro di cappella
(Critical edition and orchestration by Marco Brolli) [19:19]
Riccardo Novaro (baritone)
Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
rec. Teldex Studio, Berlin, 13-17 March 2016. DDD.
Cimarosa text and translation included.
Reviewed as press preview (mp3) and as 24/96 download with pdf booklet from
eclassical.com. Also available on vinyl as Alpha 675 (2 LPs).
The format for this fourth volume remains as before: Haydn symphonies from
different periods in his career, one of which has a name, plus, usually,
music by a near-contemporary:
Volume 1: Symphonies Nos. 39, 49 (La Passione) and 1 with Gluck Don Juan: Alpha 670 –
DL News 2013/14
Volume 2: Symphonies Nos. 46, 22 (The Philosopher) and 47 with W F Bach Sinfonia in F: Alpha 671 –
Volume 3: Symphonies Nos. 4, 42 and 64 (Tempora Mutantur) with
Overture L’Isola Disabitata and aria Solo e pensoso: Alpha
The virtues which attracted me to the earlier releases are in evidence
here, too: stylish performances which combine elegance where needed with
power and intensity where called for without exaggeration. The
period-instrument Il Giardino Armonico and their director Giovanni
Antonini, both more usually associated with music from an earlier period,
especially Vivaldi, prove themselves able interpreters of Haydn. Their
often spiky vigour in Vivaldi has sometimes been criticised, though not by
me: I especially like their way of dealing with some of that composer’s
quirkier works, such as those contained in an album entitled Il Proteo (Warner/Teldec mid-price 9029593160).
Some reviewers have found elements of that over-vigorous manner in their
earlier Haydn offerings but I am not among them: instead I find the whole
series close to my ideal of Haydn playing. As it progresses it’s easy to
see how Antonini and his team temper the wind to the shorn lamb: vigorous
in the Sturm und Drang symphonies on Volume 1, perhaps a little too
refined at times in Volume 2.
My benchmarks for No.60 and No.70 come from David Blum with the Esterházy
Orchestra, long deceased on CD, I fear, but once available on Vanguard and
still available to download or stream. They really should be more readily
offer them as part of a 5-hour set containing Blum’s Nos. 60, 70, 81, 90,
91, 39 and 73 together with some less distinguished performances.
The Blum recordings alone are worth the modest price of that set. I should
warn, however, that several repeats are omitted. I thought at first that
this might have been done in order to fit four symphonies on one CD but the
inconsistency was noted when the original LPs were released. The second
movement of No.60 is a case in point, though not that of No.70.
Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s recording of No.60, aptly coupled with No.45, is
also now download only, albeit on offer very inexpensively. The period
instruments of his Concentus Musicus Wien, early pioneers in the historic
style, now sound a little raucous by comparison with the new recording.
Antonini’s account of the slow movement sounds more like the marked andante than Harnoncourt’s or, indeed, that of the Haydn Sinfonietta
Wien and Manfred Huss on an otherwise very enjoyable recording
(BIS-SACD-1815, with No.12 and No.50 – reviewed as download from
The short Symphony No.12 is also believed to have had theatrical
connections, which is how it qualifies for inclusion on the BIS album of Three Theatrical Symphonies. The three movements seem to have
originated as entr’actes for a performance of Acide, a work which
exists only in part but has been recorded by Huss and his team for BIS
In the right hands even these early symphonies such as this are well worth
hearing and Antonini makes a strong case for it. Both he and Huss take the
second movement fairly fast for an adagio but both make it work well
at their pace. There is a strong case, however, for the more deliberate
tempo adopted by Roy Goodman without making too much of a meal of it. That
comes on one of the recordings which he made with the period-instrument
Hanover Band for a sadly incomplete Hyperion series. Symphonies Nos. 9-12
come on Helios CDH55113, normally available on CD at mid price but direct
as I write on disc or as a download (mp3 or lossless) with pdf booklet for
There’s no Goodman recording of No.60 but No.70 is available with 71 and 72
again on offer on CD or download as I write for just £5. That’s my
benchmark for period-instrument performances alongside Robin Ticciati’s
recording with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (Linn CKD500, with Nos. 31
and 101), as compared in my
with links to other MusicWeb reviews.
Goodman and Ticciati offer marginally more of the brio asked for in
the first movement than Antonini but there’s plenty of spring in the Alpha
recording. As before Antonini’s second movement andante is a trifle
faster than his rivals without sounding rushed but I marginally prefer
Goodman’s and Ticciati’s slightly more deliberate pace. Blum, for once with
all repeats observed, makes an even slower tempo work very well. In the
third movement the boot is on the other foot, with an attractively
sprightly menuet from Antonini.
I might have preferred another Haydn work to the Cimarosa but it receives a
good performance and there are not too many rival recordings.
Don’t be put off by the silly photograph on the cover of a man with a
on his head, presumably intended to represent il distratto. The
notes are, effectively, useless, with no attempt to analyse any of the
individual works, merely platitudes repeated from earlier volumes about the
‘Haydn 2032’ project in three languages. The space taken up with
meaningless photographs could have been better employed. The budget-price
Hyperion booklets are much more informative than this full-price offering.
We are not even told why Symphony No.60 obtained the title Il distratto (the distracted man). In fact it started life as
incidental music for a revival of a comedy entitled Le Distrait. It
contains one of Haydn’s famous jokes, analogous to all the musicians
leaving the stage one by one in the Farewell Symphony or the loud
crash in the Surprise Symphony. The finale has barely got under-way
when it comes to a halt and the musicians tune up again.
Nor are we told about the probable link of No.12 to Acide, that
No.70 was composed for the re-opening of the burned Esterháza opera house,
or that the strange subtitle of the slow movement of No.70, specie d’un canone in contrapunto doppio means that it’s a two-part
canon in which the two parts are capable of being inverted. The Hyperion
and Linn booklets, especially the latter, offer clear explanations of what
The recording is good, even as heard in the inferior mp3 press preview, and
excellent in 24-bit format. There’s a problem with track 2 of the
eclassical.com download – it’s cut short at 1:10 – but that has been
reported and will, I am sure, be put right. The Hyperion recordings
mentioned still sound very well, though in 16-bit only, and the Linn and
BIS, both available in 24-bit or on SACD, are very good. At $21.53 for
24-bit the Alpha is considerably more expensive than the BIS from the same
source and UK£ purchasers will find the Linn recording from
in 24-bit for £15 or on SACD for around £13.
Detailed reservations apart by comparison with other recordings, the new
Alpha recording is well worth considering, especially by those who have
been collecting the series so far.