Notes and Editorial Reviews
Happily Thomas Fey dispenses with the useless and irritating harpsichord continuo that plagues so many early- to middle-period Haydn recordings these days (even the best ones, such as Fey's). So nothing gets in the way of Haydn's colorful scoring and ceaselessly inventive orchestral textures. This is particularly important in "Il distratto", a six-movement extravaganza originally written as incidental music. Musically the work reveals an absolutely Mahlerian extravagance, from the Hungarian folk music in the minuet's trio and the ensuing presto, to the very funny retuning of the violins in the finale. Fey's performance is stunning: bold, brilliant, with big contrasts and terrific playing
from every department, particularly the horns (e.g. those brash interruptions in the adagio). It's just terrific.
Even Haydn scholar H.C. Robbins Landon has very little to say about Symphony No. 61, beyond noting that Haydn's principal occupation at the time it was written (1776) was operatic composition, to the detriment of contemporary symphonies. You'd never guess it in this performance. Listen to the wonderful wind writing in the opening vivace's second subject, or notice the wistful adagio's sensuous muted violins. If this is second-rate Haydn, it's still miles beyond what anyone else was doing at the time, and in a performance as pointed as this one (check out the string articulation in the concluding prestissimo finale), criticism is simply disarmed. The brief Overture in D makes a dazzling encore, and the sonics are perfect. Stunning.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Overture in D major, H 1a no 4 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Written: ?1784; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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