HAYDN Symphonies: No. 90; No. 92, “Oxford” • Thomas Fey, cond; Heidleberg SO • HÄNSSLER CD 98.629 (61:26)
This is my first exposure to the conducting of Thomas Fey, a young man who is apparently recording all of the Haydn symphonies (good luck with that!) for Hänssler. This is Vol. 16 and, judging from the selections available on the other discs issued so far, they’re not in chronological order. As a pupil of both Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Leonard Bernstein, Fey seems toRead more combine the historically accurate sound textures of the former with the humor and energy of the latter, whose Haydn and Mozart recordings were always (to me) among his finest. One wonders if Fey also listened to the Haydn recordings of Antal Doráti, or even Arturo Toscanini, as his approach resembles theirs: lean sonorities, crisp rhythms, a touch here and there of rubato, but mostly straightforward.
Readers of my Classical Hall of Fame reviews will know that I particularly favor the Haydn recordings of Adám Fischer. His slightly more asymmetric approach to rhythm and more legato phrasing is, I feel, better suited to Haydn’s music, but I can certainly appreciate Fey’s approach as well. I am immediately captivated by the Andante of the Symphony No. 90, which, although it is conducted somewhat on the brisk side, is certainly not rushed like some of Toscanini’s Haydn andantes. One can almost imagine an 18th-century couple dancing to this music, so lithe and buoyant is Fey’s performance. Yet even the Allegro finale of this symphony dances, so buoyant is Fey’s rhythmic treatment of it.
Likewise, this account of the “Oxford” Symphony (No. 92) is just as bracing as Doráti’s in the outer movements, equally lovely and plangent in the opening of the Adagio, and wonderfully dramatic in the surprising (for that time) central section. Fey impresses me greatly with the intelligence and sensitivity of his musical style, and I for one am happy that Hännsler is promoting him so well.
If, by chance, you don’t have any of the Fischer or Doráti recordings, acquiring Fey would be an excellent alternative. I certainly can’t hear anything musically glib or artificial in his approach; it seems to me extremely well measured and paced. One CD in his discography that particularly interests me is his Mozart symphonies K 114, 134, and 201. One hopes that he, and Hänssler, will consider a complete traversal of that composer’s symphonies. Certainly, if this disc is any indication, Fey’s approach would be just as musical as those of Jaap ter Linden and Roger Norrington, yet even more detailed than either.
Symphony No. 90 in C major, Hob.I:90: I. Adagio - Allegro assai
Symphony No. 90 in C major, Hob.I:90: II. Andante
Symphony No. 90 in C major, Hob.I:90: III. Menuet
Symphony No. 90 in C major, Hob.I:90: IV. Finale: Allegro assai
Symphony No. 92 in G major, Hob.I:92, "Oxford": I. Adagio - Allegro spiritoso
Symphony No. 92 in G major, Hob.I:92, "Oxford": II. Adagio
Symphony No. 92 in G major, Hob.I:92, "Oxford": III. Menuet: Allegro
Symphony No. 92 in G major, Hob.I:92, "Oxford": IV. Presto
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Excellent modern Haydn 90 & 92September 22, 2012By Gail M. (Goleta, CA)See All My Reviews"On this disk we're given exciting performances of two Haydn symphonies less frequently performed than those with numbers below 88 or above 92. Thomas Fey and the Heidelbergers play these works in the modern period-instruments style, and are favored by an excellent recording. Speeds are fast, but articulation is remarkably fine, easily able to keep up. I particualrly enjoyed Symphony #92, with its strange slow movement. The tendency of period style to become brusk or fierce, downplaying the warmth of Haydn's scores, is there to a slight extent, but not enough to spoil these unusual performances. They are better than several others I've heard."Report Abuse
The Fey/Haydn Juggernaut Rolls OnApril 15, 2012By Henry S. (Springfield, VA)See All My Reviews"Wow! This is another absolutely stunning issue in the brilliant series of Haydn symphonies by Thomas Fey and the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra. It is hard to imagine that anyone would find any fault with this powerful, precise rendition of these two late Haydn symphonies. For anyone who has not had a chance to sample Fey's Haydn series, now approaching the halfway point, do it now! What a great listening experience!"Report Abuse