Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Adam Fischer and his handpicked orchestra recorded all the Haydn symphonies for Nimbus, mostly in the 1990s. Here we have brand-new DSD multichannel recordings, holding to Fischer’s interpretive approach in the Nimbus cycle but with slightly better sound. One complaint up front: Haydn recycled the overture to La fedeltà premiata, which opens this rather short disc, into his Symphony No. 73, and there’s plenty of room here for that entire symphony.
As is increasingly common, at least in Europe, these modern-instrument musicians perform with attention to period-performance practices. Generally, the playing is brisk,
with forceful attacks and real punch to the timpani, but—aside from periodic attention to string effects, such as the humorous slides in the first movement of the “Surprise” Symphony—Fischer indulges in very few individual rhetorical touches, which ultimately makes these versions less engaging than classic accounts by the likes of Bernstein, Davis, Jochum, to a lesser extent Dorati, and several others. That said, the minuets are a bit odd. The initial phrases of the minuet in the “Oxford” Symphony are oddly labored, while the minuet in the “Surprise” symphony begins fast and furiously, but seems to slow down a bit after the initial presentation of the thematic material.
Otherwise, the fast movements throughout the disc are particularly incisive, although it can be difficult to get much out of the woodwind-playing during the strings-and-kettledrum-dominated tuttis. There, the recorded sound loses clarity, and the music has to swim through thick reverberation, as if the Nimbus engineers had stuck around for these MDG sessions. And there comes a point in almost every movement when we’re thrust into a timpani concerto. Nevertheless, this disc offers many highly effective moments, including the notorious “surprise” in No. 94; Fischer reduces the preceding passage to near-inaudibility, even more drastically than Monteux in his superb Vienna Philharmonic account.
There’s no real advantage to the imaging in the SACD surround format; indeed, the timpani are more suitably integrated and the winds are better defined in the orchestral texture in conventional CD mode. The two-channel SACD layer provides the best balance, imaging, and presence, but you do have to crank up the volume.
James Reel, FANFARE
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 92 in G major, H 1 no 92 "Oxford" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Written: 1789; Eszterhazá, Hungary
Symphony no 94 in G major, H 1 no 94 "Surprise" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Written: 1791; London, England
La fedeltà premiata, H 28 no 10: Overture by Franz Joseph Haydn
Written: 1780; Eszterhazá, Hungary
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