Haydn: Symphony No. 22 (Philosopher); Symphony No. 49 (La Passione); Divertimentos: in A, Hob.X.10; in B flat, Op. 1/1, Hob.III.1

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Landor
ALBUM TITLE: Haydn
WORKS: Symphony No. 22 (Philosopher); Symphony No. 49 (La Passione); Divertimentos: in A, Hob.X.10; in B flat, Op. 1/1, Hob.III.1
PERFORMER: Sinfonia Classica/Gernot Süssmuth
CATALOGUE NO: LAN 282

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A peculiarity shared by all but one of these four works is that they begin with a slow movement. Even the first of the two divertimentos opens with an austere Adagio in the minor. The remaining two movements are less individual, though the final variations feature some spectacularly high-lying horn writing, expertly negotiated here by Mark Paine. The other divertimento is actually the five-movement string quartet Op. 1 No. 1, but there’s certainly no harm done in playing it with a larger body of strings, especially when it’s so inventively handled. The Philosopher Symphony No. 22 has a first movement whose sombre chorale melody is played in fortissimo alternation by a pair each of horns and cors anglais (lower-pitched cousins of the oboe), while the strings accompany in a soft unison staccato. Fascinating though that piece is, the greatest of the works here is the F minor Passione Symphony No. 49 – a product of Haydn’s Sturm und Drang phase of the late 1760s and early 1770s, with another dark-hued opening Adagio, this time offset by extraordinarily agitated and angular quick movements. The Sinfonia Classica under Gernot Süssmuth really breathes life into all these pieces, hitting on exactly the right colour and atmosphere for each. Süssmuth’s uncompromisingly blunt movement-endings take some getting used to, and perhaps he’s over-generous with the repeats, especially since they mostly sound like a carbon-copies of the first play-through; but he has put together an enterprising and rewarding programme. Strongly recommended. Misha Donat