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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Sinfonias con “Violoncello Obbligato”
Symphony No. 13 in D major, Hob. I/13 (1763) [24:46]
Symphony No. 31 in D major “Hornsignal”, Hob. I/31 (1765) [24:46]
Symphony No. 36 in E flat major, Hob. I/36 (ca 1762) [20:51]
Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla/Christophe Coin (cello)
rec. 2010, Auditorium Centro Cultural de la Villa de San José de La Rinconada, Seville, Spain

This is the third recording of the Orquesta Barroca de Sevilla that I have reviewed this year. The first - cello concertos by Haydn, Boccherini and Vivaldi - was outstanding (review) and the second - cello concertos by CPE Bach - interpretatively disappointing (review). As it happens, I’m working in reverse chronological order, as this disc is the earliest of the three.

The idea of programming these three symphonies, each with a significant role for solo cello, is a good one. I have at least one Haydn cello concerto recording where one of these movements has been used as a filler, but if there is another all-symphony disc with the same idea, I’m not aware of it.

It occurred to me after completing the second review that what I felt was an overly sedate approach by Coin and the OBS to the CPE Bach concertos might be much more successful in the Haydn symphonies which I would be listening to next. That is not to say that Haydn should be played slowly and without energy, quite the opposite, but much of his music, particularly the earlier works, is light and graceful, and not to be driven hard. And that is what eventuated – these are lovely performances which bring out all the qualities that one thinks of in Haydn. The Menuet/Trio movements are particular delights - I felt as though I had been transported back to the Esterhazy Palace, watching those of the court engaging in their stately dances. The “Violoncello Obbligato” parts are only in the slow movements of each. In No. 13 in particular, it could easily have been taken from a proposed concerto, so dominant is the cello’s role. A feature of all three is the great use made by Haydn of the higher registers of the cello. If the finales in these early(ish) symphonies are not quite as dazzling and fast as those in the London set – that of No. 31 is Molto moderato – they are still beautifully crafted and given splendid outings here. A mention should also be made of the orchestra’s horn players for their marvellous work in the Hornsignal symphony.

As one would expect from such an eminent artist, Coin plays his solos beautifully, with tenderness and grace. The orchestra shows that its playing was as good a decade before the disc that introduced me to them. The sound quality here is much better that than for the Bach concerto disc, where there wasn’t much definition of the different sections of the orchestra. The booklet notes are very good, providing both an interesting and informative historical background to the music, and a simple but useful guide to the music itself.

It is a fascinating aspect of musical collaborations that the same performers can produce fine results with one composer, but not another. I have long pondered this with Fabio Biondi and Europa Galante, who are truly wonderous in Vivaldi, but whose Telemann I found disappointing. I’m very happy that my delight with the OBS in the first disc has been restored by this recording. If you have a love of the Haydn symphonies, please give this a listen – you won’t regret it.

David Barker

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