Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphonies: No. 41 in C; No. 44 in e,
No. 47 in G
Thomas Fey, cond; Heidelberg S
HÄNSSLER 98.238 (69:59)
Fey and his Heidelbergers have learned quickly; their recent Haydn records always offer something of quality. They use modern strings and woodwinds, with period horns, trumpets, and timpani, and they achieve admirable clarity and punch. The string body is concise yet lean; horns are strong and rich; trumpets and timpani are
bright and (perhaps too) forceful. Woodwinds are too reticent, whether or not the brass is playing. All repeats are played except in Menuets da capo. My strongest quibble is that Fey doesn’t achieve much variety among the diversity of Haydn’s symphonies: on this disc, symphonies in C-Major, E-Minor, and G-Major sound all too similar. Everything is consistently too fast; Fey never stops (or slows down) to smell the roses. The C-Major Symphony is a case in point: Max Goberman plays every movement more slowly, gets much more individuality from his soloists, and finds more character in the music. Adam Fischer does so, too, but his trumpet is a bit sour and he doesn’t employ horns in C-alt. I’ve never been able to find the Derek Solomons LP set that includes Symphony No. 41.
The E-Minor Symphony is again very well played, but there is no meaning to the performance, no hint of the “Trauer.” The Adagio goes at an Andante pace. One must hear Hermann Scherchen (on DGG) to understand what this symphony is all about. It doesn’t matter one whit that Scherchen uses modern instruments, plays the movements out of order, takes almost no repeats, and is in monaural sound.
One can go for years thinking that a particular Haydn symphony is just another pleasant work, and then comes a performance that knocks your socks off, realizing all of the work’s excellences. This has happened to me before (Nicholas Ward’s No. 23 for Naxos, among many), and Fey does so with the G-Major Symphony. The opening Allegro balances oft-repeated horn calls with a variety of string and wind phrases. But even the horn calls are varied, beginning in unison, then repeated in seconds, then fifths, then sevenths. Those dissonant seconds (in the third measure) are a wake-up call, and Fey makes the whole movement more exciting than ever before. Not even Derek Solomons’s L’Estro Armonico can compete, as the varying horn intervals sound merely muddled in that performance. The Menuet is a rather dull piece—until one opens the score. Dubbed Menuet al roverso, it consists of 10 measures that are to be played backwards as the second section; the same is true of the 12-bar Trio. Apparently even Haydn couldn’t accomplish this with interesting music, however, so the joke is more for the performers than the audience. What a sight-read that would be! The Universal critical edition prints both the autographs and their written-out realizations. The finale is another unusual movement: a Presto assai with long stretches of
Strongly recommended for the stunning performance of the G-Major Symphony.
FANFARE: James H. North
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title