Harry Christophers conducts Haydn Symphonies Nos 7 & 83

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COMPOSERS: Joseph Haydn
LABELS: Coro
ALBUM TITLE: Haydn
WORKS: Symphonies Nos 7 (Le midi) & 83 (The Hen); Violin Concerto in C
PERFORMER: Aisslinn Nosky (violin); Handel & Haydn Society/Harry Christophers
CATALOGUE NO: Coro COR 16139

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‘Fatto per il Luigi’ reads the inscription at the head of Haydn’s C major Violin Concerto. The Luigi in question was Tomasini, leader of the Esterházy orchestra, and the concerto’s virtuoso writing shows that he must have been a fine player. Musically, though, the piece is hardly top-notch Haydn, and for all the attractiveness of its serenade-like slow movement it could easily have been turned out by any competent composer. Tomasini has another moment of glory in Symphony No. 7 (Le Midi), where the slow movement is a recitative and aria featuring a solo violin. Haydn shines the spotlight on other members of the orchestra, too – in particular, the flutes and the principal cello – and there’s even a double-bass solo in the trio of the minuet.

In a different class altogether is the Paris Symphony No. 83, whose clucking oboe accompaniment to its second subject has earned it the nickname of La poule. It’s a marvellously intense piece, and it gets a no-holds barred performance from Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society orchestra. They bring a fine sense of hushed expressiveness to the slow movement, too, though its minor-tinged ending is so lingeringly evocative that I could have foregone the long second-half repeat. The orchestra’s leader, Aisslin Nosky, is an energetic soloist, though not quite colourful enough to make a compelling case for the concerto.

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Misha Donat