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Haydn symphonies v26 HC22019
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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 107 ‘A’ in B flat major, Hob. I:107 (1760-61) [12:57]
Symphony No. 11 in E flat major, Hob. I:11 (c. 1760-61) [19:34]
Symphony No. 32 in C major, Hob. I:32 (1760-61) [17:40]
Symphony No. 15 in D major, Hob. I:15 (1761) [17:32]
Heidelberger Sinfoniker/Johannes Klumpp
rec. July 2020, Palatin Wiesloch, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Complete Symphonies – Volume 26
HÄNSSLER CLASSIC HC22019 [68:16]

I am delighted to welcome volume 26 of the projected cycle of complete Haydn symphonies from the Heidelberger Sinfoniker under Johannes Klumpp.

Following the withdrawal of conductor Thomas Fey, the Heidelberger Sinfoniker’s projected cycle of the complete Haydn symphonies had come to a halt and its continuation was in doubt. Now under Klumpp, the Heidelberger Sinfoniker, described as being ‘one of the world’s experts on Viennese Classicism’, has restarted the series. Only last month I reviewed volume 25, the first album in the Haydn series under Klumpp appointed as the new artistic director and chief conductor at the start of the 2020/21 season.

A prize-winning conductor, Stuttgart-born Klumpp took lessons from Manfred Schreier and Thomas Ungar and studied conducting at the Hochschule für Musik Franz Liszt, Weimar. Like his predecessor Thomas Fey, who began this Haydn cycle in 1999, Klumpp is also a specialist in period-informed performance practice that he melds with his own individual instincts. Unlike Fey’s recordings, Klumpp presents the symphonies in chronological order, an approach I prefer, but as always with Haydn’s works, it is difficult to determine accurate composition dates. The traditional method of using the ‘Hoboken’ catalogue numbers is often unreliable, in particular with regard to the earliest works. An improvement on ‘Hoboken’ is the numbering system researched by Haydn authority H.C. Robbins-Landon, known as ‘HRL’; however, more recent studies are now providing more accurate dates. A valuable resource for all matters Haydn including the catalogue raisonné is the website www.Haydn107.com part of www.haydn-joseph.com.

When Haydn secured the post of Kapellmeister at the court of Count Morzin in 1757, it was his first position with a regular wage. In winter, the family in the winter was resident at the Palace in Vienna and during the summer months the court would retreat to the country, at Dolní Lukavice in the Pilsen area of Bohemia. It is probable that Haydn’s first seventeen symphonies were products of his employment there; these so-called ‘Morzin’ symphonies are listed chronologically by ‘Hoboken’ numbers: 1, 37, 18, 2, 4, 27, 10, 20, 17, 19, 107, 23, 11, 5, 32, 15 and 3. Haydn stayed at the Morzin court until 1761 when money difficulties evidently led to Count Morzin releasing his musicians. Haydn soon found employment in the service of the wealthy Prince Anton Esterházy at Eisenstadt, where initially he served as assistant Kapellmeister to Gregor Joseph Werner; nevertheless, the position was a significant advancement from the Morzin court.

According to Klumpp, four of the five symphonies here, nos. 107, 11 and 32, form part of the ‘Morzin’ symphonies, while no. 15 is one of the earliest of the many symphonies Haydn wrote at Esterházy Palace, marking Haydn’s journey from Count Morzin to his new dawn at the Esterházy Court. That contradicts information on www.Haydn107.com, which gives No. 15 as one of the ‘Morzin’ symphonies - just one example typical of the disputed chronology of Haydn’s body of works. With regard to the Symphony No. 107 in B flat major, Hob. I:107 - also known as Symphony 'A' in B flat major – initially, the ‘Hoboken’ catalogue had the work catalogued as a string quartet Hob. III:5 (Op. 1/5).

Under Klumpp, the chamber sized Heidelberger Sinfoniker displays a distinct alertness in performances that feel bright, winsome and keenly focused. The orchestra is made up of twenty-one players: a thirteen-strong string section, three modern woodwind, four period brass instruments and timpani.

For me, on this album include the level of exuberance Klumpp gives to the opening movement Allegro of the Symphony No. 107 in B flat major and the second movement Allegro of the Symphony No. 11 in E flat major, which just bursts open with energy, producing a convincingly windswept quality. The substantial third movement of the Symphony No. 32 in C major, marked Allegro ma non troppo, takes over seven minutes; Klumpp produces an undertow of melancholy while its overall character remains vitally appealing. In his notes, Klumpp points out the section at 5:45-5:56, which is brightly coloured and heralds slightly weightier playing. Particularly striking is the opening movement of Symphony No. 15 in D major marked Adagio - Allegro - Adagio. The players maintain a compelling poise and elegance in the outer Adagio sections of the movement which frame a vigorous Presto passage at 2.06-4:14. Overall, the Heidelberger Sinfoniker’s play with an uplifting vivacity, the tone of their instruments blending well and producing clear, colourful textures.

Recording in 2020 in the Palatin Wiesloch, Baden-Württemberg, engineer Eckhard Steiger provides clear, effectively balanced sound, but, as with the previous volume, a richer string section would be more to my taste. Klumpp is the author of the booklet essay, providing a short note on each symphony.

Of the complete recorded cycles of Haydn symphonies my preference is the set from Ádám Fischer conducting the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, who use modern instruments yet employ aspects of period informed performance practice - increasingly so as the project advanced. Begun in 1987 and completed over fourteen years, the set is a major achievement and the playing is consistently compelling. Fischer recorded the set in Haydn’s workplace, the Haydnsaal in Esterházy Palace, Eisenstadt, and the 33 CDs are presented in ‘Hoboken’ number order on Brilliant Classics. However, Klumpp and his players make a strong case for these early Haydn symphonies, especially as they are seldom encountered in the concert hall.

Michael Cookson



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