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Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphonies
Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Sir Neville Marriner
rec. 1970-90
ELOQUENCE 484 3214 [15 CDs: 754]

The emergence of the ASMF/Marriner recordings of the Haydn symphonies is well told by Philip Stuart in his part of the booklet notes to this set of 15 CDs. Nos 52 and 53 first appeared in a four LP set called ‘The Rise of the Symphony’ in 1970. Then there was a gap to 1975 and thenceforth until 1990 the nicknamed symphonies were regularly recorded. In fact, the programmatic conceit of only ‘named’ symphonies gradually disappeared, leaving a total of 33 recorded symphonies from these forces.

Marriner was in some kind of competition at the time with Raymond Leppard and his English Chamber Orchestra forces though the most obvious near-contemporary complete set was Doráti and the Philharmonia Hungarica. Their recordings offered an en-bloc challenge to the market. Over the years, as the recordings developed, other recordings of the late symphonies appeared – Colin Davis, Brüggen and Solti for example – and so Nos 93, 95, 97 and 98 were not (and were never to be) recorded by the ASMF.

That’s the background: what of the performances? Given the near-ubiquity of Marriner’s recordings with his group, I suspect these recordings were somewhat taken for granted at the time. Listening now what so impresses is the refinement of the winds, the phrasal strength of the strings, the buttressing power of the horns, the strategic employment of the harpsichord and the faultless eloquence of the principals. When you have on board such players as flautist Susan Milan in Le Matin, violinists Iona Brown, Kenneth Sillito and Malcolm Latchem, cellist Denis Vigay and harpsichordist John Toll – and these are only the named players in the ‘Times of Day’ symphonies, Nos 6, 7 and 8 – then you are in the safest of hands. The greater amount of rehearsal time that must have been available to Marriner is also evident; remarkable though Doráti’s set was, no one is going to pretend that ensemble wasn’t sometimes shaky.

Though later performances have made Haydn seem more visceral, few have paid attention to the dynamics as Marriner did in, say, the slow movement of No 55 ‘The Schoolmaster’ or in the gentle swing with which he vests these mid-period Menuettos. The late William Bennett plays with remarkable agility, avian eloquence and tonal lustre in No 31 ‘The Horn Signal’ whilst Iona Brown brings her accustomed elegant nonchalance to bear. Finales are sprung; the Presto finale of No 73 ‘The Hunt’ is game and agile. Marriner clearly relished the tangy sonorities of No 59 ‘The Fire’ though its slow movement is both stately and taken at a good, forward-moving tempo. The string entries in the ‘mourning’ (No 44) are vivid and incisive whilst the opening slow movement of No 49 ‘Passion’ is phrased with quietly impressive expression. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to parrot the usual critical line that these performances are beautiful, refined but under-characterised. They are, to the contrary, full of rhythmic brio, and, indeed, beautifully played.

Marriner was never without humour; No 101 ‘The Clock’ is duly dispatched with a quietly imperturbable wit and its Minuet played with elegant vigour. ‘Maria Theresia’, No 48, has crisp entries and stirring horn playing. As the discs are presented in rough compositional order, in original jacket format, the earliest performances in the cycle come in Disc 8 – Nos 52 and 53 ‘L’Impériale’, that favourite of Stokowski’s. They’re both played with great rhythmic vivacity and Marriner, as he nearly always does, takes exceptionally plausible tempi, flecking the movement with colour; nothing at all complacent here. Nos 60, 63 and 69 are contained in CD9, recorded in St John’s, Smith Square in 1981 – there is a variety of recording locations that include Brent Town Hall, Henry Wood Hall, and Walthamstow Assembly Hall for the later symphonies. There’s a touch more amplitude to the sound in these St John’s recordings, a greater spatial depth and arguably a greater definition in the playing. The finale of the multi-movement No 60 is especially fizzy.

The galvanizing duo of ‘The Bear’ and ‘The Hen’ can be found in CD10. The Menuet of the former is wonderfully pomposo, whilst the Andante of the latter has a sensitivity in matters of dynamics that marks it out. All the symphonies are beautifully balanced, as the spirited playing of No 86 shows, its charmingly phrased Menuet being especially notable but not more notable than the ardently phrased slow movement of No 87. Nos 99 and 102 were the most recently recorded, set down in 1990.

The critically-minded might suggest that Marriner is inclined to short-change the sheer drama of the music as well as its more off-beat moments of surprise; to withhold the full force of its intensity. I don’t hear things that way. Yes, these are ripely considered and shapely readings, strong on a cultured string tone, mellifluous winds, resonant brass and apt percussion – with harpsichord as required. They are also consonant and consistent. If you want Whitney Balliett’s Sound of Surprise, you need to look elsewhere.

Where this box really scores is in its completeness, in bringing together all Marriner’s Philips Haydn symphonic recordings. The original jacket artwork is retained in all its droll glory – except the early Nos 52 and 53 and the coupling of 99 and 102 which is cut from a different cloth. There are fine booklet notes from Costa Pilavachi, a long-time head of Philips and later EMI, an edited version of the original notes by Max Harrison, an interesting note from Rob Cowan and Philip Stuart’s recorded chronology. The remastering by Chris Bernauer sounds ideal.

Jonathan Woolf

Contents
CD 1
Symphony No 6 in D major, Hob. I:6 ‘Le Matin’
Symphony No 7 in C major, Hob. I:7 ‘Le Midi’
Symphony No 8 in G major, Hob. I:8 ‘Le Soir’
CD 2
Symphony No 22 in E-flat major, Hob. I:22 ‘Der Philosoph’ (The Philosopher)
Symphony No 55 in E-flat major, Hob. I:55 ‘Der Schulmeister’ (The Schoolmaster)
CD 3
Symphony No 31 in D major, Hob. I:31 ‘mit dem Hornsignal’ (Horn Signal)
Symphony No 73 in D major, Hob. I:‘La Chasse’ (The Hunt)
CD 4
Symphony No 43 in E-flat major, Hob. I:43 ‘Merkur’ (Mercury)
Symphony No 59 in A major, Hob. I:59 ‘Feuer-Symphonie’ (Fire)
CD 5
Symphony No 44 in E minor, Hob. I:44 ‘Trauer-Symphonie’ (Mourning)
Symphony No 49 in F minor, Hob. I:49 ‘La Passione’ (Passion)
CD 6
Symphony No 45 in F-sharp minor, Hob. I:45 ‘Abschieds-Symphonie’ (Farewell)
Symphony No 101 in D major, Hob. I:101 ‘The Clock’
CD 7
Symphony No 48 in C major, Hob. I:48 ‘Maria Theresia’
Symphony No 85 in B-flat major, Hob. I:85 ‘La Reine’
CD 8
Symphony No 52 in C minor, Hob. I:52
Symphony No 53 in D major, Hob. I:53 ‘L’Impériale’ (Imperial)
CD 9
Symphony No 60 in C major, Hob. I:60 ‘Il Distratto’
Symphony No 63 in C major, Hob. I:63 ‘La Roxelane’
Symphony No 69 in C major, Hob. I:69 ‘Laudon’
CD 10
Symphony No 82 in C major, Hob. I:82 ‘L’Ours’ (The Bear)
Symphony No 83 in G minor, Hob. I:83 ‘La Poule’ (The Hen)
CD 11
Symphony No 84 in E-flat major, Hob. I:84
Symphony No 86 in D major, Hob. I:86
Symphony No 87 in A major, Hob. I:87
CD 12
Symphony No 92 in G major, Hob. I:92 ‘Oxford’
Symphony No 104 in D major, Hob. I:104 ‘London’
CD 13
Symphony No 94 in G major, Hob. I:94 ‘mit dem Paukenschlag’ (Surprise)
Symphony No 96 in D major, Hob. I:96 ‘The Miracle’
CD 14
Symphony No 99 in E-flat major, Hob. I:99
Symphony No 102 in B-flat major, Hob. I:102
CD 15
Symphony No 100 in G major, Hob. I:100 ‘Militaire’ (Military)
Symphony No 103 in E-flat major, Hob. I:103 ‘mit dem Paukenwirbel’ (Drum Roll)

Recording information
CD 1
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Location: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 16–18 December 1980
Original Philips Release: 6514 076: August 1982
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 2
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Locations: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 1–3 October 1975 and Henry Wood Hall, London, 17 & 19
December 1975 (Symphony No 55); Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 12–13 October 1975 (Symphony No 22)
Original Philips Release: 9500 198: February 1978
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 3
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Locations: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 1–2 & 6–9 October 1977 (Symphony No 73); Kingsway Hall,
London 12 & 15 January 1978 (Symphony No 31)
Original Philips Release: 9500 518: July 1979
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 4
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 17 & 19 December 1975
Original Philips Release: 9500 159: January 1977
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 5
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 1–3 October 1975
Original Philips Release: 9500 199: March 1978
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 6
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Locations: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 1–2 & 6–9 October 1977
Original Philips Release: 9500 520: June 1979
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 7
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 30 September 1975 (Symphony No 48), 12–13 October 1975 (Symphony No 85)
Original Philips Release: 9500 200: January 1978
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 8
Recording Producer: Erik Smith
Balance Engineer: Hans Lauterslager
Recording location: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 25–26 March 1970
Original Philips Release: 6500 114: July 1972; also released in a 4-LP set 6707 013 ‘The Rise of the Symphony’: October 1971
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 9
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Location: St. John’s, Smith Square, London, UK, 19–22 March 1981 (Symphony No 69), 1–2 May 1981 (Symphonies Nos 60 & 63)
Original Philips Releases: 6514 113 (Symphonies Nos 60 & 63): January 1983; 6514 146 (Symphony No 69): April 1983
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 10
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Locations: Henry Wood Hall, London, UK, 1–2 & 6–9 October 1977
Original Philips Release: 9500 519: May 1979
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 11
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Location: St. John’s, Smith Square, London, UK, 19–22 March 1981
Original Philips Release: 6725 012: April 1982
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 12
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Location: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 22 & 24 September 1976
Original Philips Release: 9500 304: October 1978
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 13
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Wilhelm Hellweg
Recording Location: Brent Town Hall, London, UK, 8–9 December 1976
Original Philips Release: 9500 348: April 1978
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 14
Recording Producer: Erik Smith
Balance Engineer: Erdo Groot
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 9–10 October 1990
Original Philips Release: 432 139.2PH: January 1992
STEREO RECORDINGS

CD 15
Recording Producer & Balance Engineer: Volker Straus
Recording Location: Walthamstow Assembly Hall, London, UK, 3–4 June 1976
Original Philips Release: 9500 255: October 1977
STEREO RECORDINGS



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