WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Haydn: Complete Symphonies Vol 18 / Fey, Heidelberg Symphony

Haydn / Fey / Heidelberger Sinfoniker
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 98582   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Thomas Fey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Heidelberg Symphony
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

HAYDN Symphonies: No. 89 in F; No. 102 in Bb. Sinfonia Concertante Thomas Fey, cond; Heidelberg SO HÄNSSLER CD 98.582 (68:14)

As reported in many past reviews, Thomas Fey is the good-cop-bad-cop traffic director of Haydn symphonies. Some of his performances have been marvelous (No. 60 in C, “Il distratto”), some dreadful (I try to forget which ones). This disc is inconsistent more for its recorded sound than for Fey’s leadership. Symphony No. 89 gets a bright, juicy recording (from Internationale Read more Naturhornakademie, Bad Dürkheim); this orchestra has seldom sounded so sweet and winning. The other works were recorded by the same team about a week earlier (all in May 2012) in the Gesellschaftshaus, Heidelberg-Pfaffengrund; but by comparison, the ensemble here sounds dull and distant. The performance of No. 89 is also fresh and alive, if not as elegant as that by Dennis Russell Davies in Sony’s complete set. For once, Fey doesn’t race through a finale ( Vivace assai ) too rapidly for his troops to follow. I’ll give the nod to Fey, on the basis of the recorded sound. Ádám Fischer’s performance is very similar to Fey’s; recorded in the Haydnsaal of the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, its sound is lovely but a touch too reverberant. All three rebut this symphony’s reputation as one of Haydn’s lesser ones—how did that view ever get started?

Fey plays the Largo introduction of Symphony No. 102 at an appropriate speed, but in the Vivace body of the first movement his tempos are all over the lot. The orchestral execution is excellent, with fierce attacks appropriate for Haydn’s grandest symphony. Fey’s Adagio is very fast, the Menuetto even more so; the Trio is very slow, and Fey allows his first oboe to embellish during its repeat. The Presto finale races along as advertised. Despite Fey’s inconsistencies and my several nits, there is much excitement throughout the performance, which lives up to fine ones by Scherchen, Klemperer, Bernstein, and Colin Davis—whose Concertgebouw outplays every other ensemble, in a crisp, fast reading.

Something of the same may be said about the Sinfonia Concertante: Tempos are a bit unsteady, but the playing is adventurous, with Fey’s usual aggressive tuttis. The soloists—Woitek Garbowski, violin; Pirkko Langer, cello; Andrius Puskunigis, oboe; Michael Kaulartz, bassoon—don’t blend well (which is mostly Haydn’s fault for choosing these four instruments) and occasionally get out of sync, but they each play with a lively spirit and never hold back. The result is a wild and whacky performance, one most fitting for this charming late work. Russell Davies’s performance is better balanced and offers more consistent music-making, but those qualities are not essential here. All in all, this disc is one of the best of Fey’s Haydn symphony series. Reexamining the five volumes that I have kept, I see that they were recorded in many different venues. My advice to Fey, Hänssler Classics, and its engineering team: Get back to Bad Dürkheim, and stay there.

FANFARE: James H. North
Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 89 in F major, H 1 no 89 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Thomas Fey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Heidelberg Symphony
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Symphony no 102 in B flat major, H 1 no 102 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Thomas Fey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Heidelberg Symphony
Period: Classical 
Written: 1794; London, England 
Sinfonia Concertant for Violin, Cello, Oboe and Bassoon in B flat major, H 1 no 105 by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Thomas Fey
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Heidelberg Symphony
Period: Classical 
Written: 1792; London, England 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 A favorite of mine - Haydn shines! July 27, 2019 By Wally B. (Augusta, GA) See All My Reviews "Beautiful movements - the Composers shines." Report Abuse
 Excellent Addition to the Fey/HSO Cycle March 12, 2013 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Here is another in the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra's on-going cycle of Haydn symphonies, and like the previous releases, this one can only be described in superlative terms. Full of energy, rapid tempos, and sharply focused playing from Thomas Fey's first class ensemble, Haydn's Symphonies # 89 and 102 are sure to please even the most dour and jaded of listeners. Symphony # 89 is the second symphony following Haydn's famous group of so-called 'Paris' Symphonies. It is light in texture, with no percussion. Symphony # 102, on the other hand, is fully mature Haydn, falling late in his final 12 'London' Symphonies. The increased depth of sound and enhanced thematic content is readily detectable to the listener. At this point in the cycle, I'd be willing to predict that the complete Fey/HSO project will merit a place among the finest Haydn symphony collections, clearly competitive with Dorati's legendary work and Adam Fischer's recent and excellent offerings. As if all this isn't enough to recommend this recording, the final work is a magnificent bonus- Haydn's Sinfonia Concertante. The chamber orchestra size of the HSO makes it idealy structured for this work, and wow- does it ever deliver a stunning performance! For those who want to hear excellent late Haydn or are in the process of building a Haydn symphony collection, this Hanssler Classic disk should be seriously considered-it's simply outstanding." Report Abuse
Review This Title