Notes and Editorial Reviews
Colin Davis was a marvelous Haydn conductor, at least most of the time, and with one small exception these are uniformly splendid performances. That exception consists of the finale of Symphony No. 93, which is relatively slack, especially coming after the rowdier than usual Minuet. Everything else here is splendid. This is “big band” Haydn the way it’s meant to be. Consider how powerful those minor-key outbursts are in the slow movement of the “Oxford” Symphony. Terrific, isn’t it?
You’ll also love the amount of personality that Davis injects into the finale of No. 98–the harpsichord solo doesn’t just play where Haydn writes it, but also in the final bars, a totally captivating effect, as is the use of solo violin when the
keyboard enters. All of this reveals a lifelong love of this music, and a thoughtful, sympathetic engagement with it. Every symphony here features similarly imaginative moments, from No. 97?s brassy minuet to the delicious clarinets in the finale of No. 99.
The SACD sonics are a little bit dry, typically from this source, but clear and well-balanced, with plenty of presence and impact, and the audience is very quiet. Even if you already own Davis’ earlier recordings on Philips with the Concertgebouw Orchestra, these interpretations are different and distinctive enough to justify the investment.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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