Notes and Editorial Reviews
Haydn fans will be delighted to learn that Thomas Fey's complete symphony cycle is back on, though heaven only knows what might happen between now and its completion over the next decade or so. We can only hope, because Fey remains the most exciting Haydn conductor around at present, and this disc only bolsters his reputation. Symphony No. 52 is regarded by many as the finest of all of the "Sturm und Drang" works, and Fey tears into it with a "take no prisoners" approach that offers tremendous drive and impact, but at no cost in terms of the quality of the playing. You'll love the way the horns ring out in the finale, not to mention reveling in the characterfully shaped phrasing
in the slow movement (no dead spots here, even with all of the repeats).
My only quibble concerns the presence of the harpsichord continuo, wholly unnecessary and distracting, though the part is discreetly managed. Fey's wise decision to leave the instrument out of the marvelously gaunt opening slow movement of La Passione only begs the question of what it's doing there otherwise. This remains a matter of taste, and as it doesn't detract from what Fey is trying to do, it's a case of no harm, no foul. Besides, after hearing the symphony's hurricane of a finale, you'll be completely won over to the interpretation, as I was.
It's particularly pleasurable to find the seldom-heard but wacky Symphony No. 58 in this company. Essentially a study in rhythm, the work begins with a quick sonata-form minuet in all but name, but one that constantly breaks into triplet motion as well. The slow movement similarly makes great play with triplets, but the actual minuet has a limp, and is so titled ("Menuet alla Zoppa"). The disruption continues in the presto finale, a riot of syncopations that constantly upset the listener's (and player's) expectations. Fey takes it swiftly but still allows sufficient time for Haydn's rhythmic high-jinks to register with ideal weight and impact. Hänssler captures the ensemble in sound of pellucid clarity and realism. Welcome back, and may this series survive to its appointed conclusion!
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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