Haydn: Symphony No. 94 in C (Surprise)

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WORKS: Symphony No. 94 in C (Surprise)
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Pahud; Berlin PO/Mariss Jansons (St Irene Church, Istanbul, 2001)
Filmed last May in the magnificent Byzantine church of St Irene in Istanbul, this Berlin Philharmonic ‘Europe Concert’ is bolstered by a brief, hastily assembled ‘behind-the-scenes’ montage and a more illuminating film on Istanbul’s history and culture (totalling under 30 minutes, with the latter narrated in German, though subtitles arc provided throughout in Spanish, English, Italian and German). In the concert itself the cameras reveal a batonless Jansons fighting the


morning heat. After Haydn’s Surprise Symphony comes Mozart’s K314 Flute Concerto, performed with natural warmth and poise by Pahud, who joins in with the orchestra for the first five bars of the orchestral introduction — a freedom he would not enjoy for an audio-only CD release. I’d have preferred a more trance-like, disturbed yearning quality in the ‘Reveries’ of Berlioz’s Symphonic fantastique, but elsewhere the Berliners pack a punch. The oboist’s reply to the solitary cor anglais line opening the ‘Scene aux champs’ emanates effectively from the rear gallery, a move which nevertheless doesn’t yield enough space on the cramped platform for the two harps, which are deposed to floor level, behind the conductor. This was clearly a red-letter day in the Istanbul musical calendar. The church is well lit (sometimes overly so) and good live sound is captured despite discreet microphone positioning. Edward Bhesania