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Haydn: Symphony no 83 "The Hen"; Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique / Barbirolli

Haydn / Barbirolli / Swr Sinfonieorch Baden-baden
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Ica Classics   Catalog #: 5105   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Franz Joseph HaydnHector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South West German Radio Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BERLIOZ Symphonie fantastique. HAYDN Symphony No. 83, “The Hen” John Barbirolli, cond; SWF SO Baden-Baden ICA 5105 (80:17)

These performances were recorded for South West German public radio in 1969, the year before Barbirolli died. The two symphonies had often appeared in the conductor’s programs and he had previously recorded them with other orchestras. His approach to both works is solid. His Haydn does not in Read more any way resemble today’s classical style: he treats it with the cut and thrust of a Verdi overture, while the slow movement is in the mold of Klemperer’s Beethoven. Nevertheless, on its own terms the reading is effective.

In the opening and final movements of the Symphonie fantastique, Barbirolli often adopts a leisurely pace in order to admire the view. The passage leading up to the first appearance of the idée fixe definitely hangs fire. On the positive side, he brings great power to the final crescendo and climax of the “Songe d’une nuit du Sabbat.” What the reading lacks in pace it makes up in dramatic heft.

Two quirky details make an appearance. In the second movement, “Un Bal,” Barbirolli introduces a ritenuto into the waltz theme that literally breaks the melodic line at a crucial point. I find this no less intrusive on repetition. In the Finale he underscores the tolling tubular bell with low octaves on piano—an appropriate touch for this weighty, full-blooded interpretation.

Listeners who have heard Barbirolli’s EMI recordings from the end of his life—his late set of the Brahms symphonies, for example—will know what to expect: breadth, weight, grandeur, emotional investment, and the conductor’s inevitable groaning, picked up by the microphones and sounding like the world’s worst case of heartburn. Sound quality is fine, and the timing is more than generous.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 83 in G minor, H 1 no 83 "The Hen" by Franz Joseph Haydn
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South West German Radio Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Eszterhazá, Hungary 
Date of Recording: 1969 
Symphonie fantastique, Op. 14 by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South West German Radio Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; France 
Date of Recording: 1969 

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