Haydn: Symphony No. 30 in C (Alleluja); Symphony No. 55 in E flat (Schoolmaster); Symphony No. 63 in C (La Roxelane)

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphony No. 30 in C (Alleluja); Symphony No. 55 in E flat (Schoolmaster); Symphony No. 63 in C (La Roxelane)
PERFORMER: Northern CO/Nicholas Ward
CATALOGUE NO: 8.550757 DDD
The Naxos Haydn symphony cycle is bewilderingly haphazard. To date, three different conductors and orchestras have been used, while the allocation of symphonies to discs defies logic, with sets such as the Paris and London Symphonies broken up and scattered seemingly at random through the catalogue. All that links the three works on this latest Naxos issue is the brisk, if rather anonymous efficiency of the performances. Haydn’s music is sufficiently original that even such relatively bland interpretations can sound amiable, and Nicholas Ward does contrive a pleasing elegance at times, especially on ‘La Roxelane’. (What a pity, though, that the striking version by Derek Solomons and L’Estro Harmonico still awaits CD reissue.)

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There’s nothing diffident about Roy Goodman’s treatment of Haydn. I’ve expressed reservations before about the prominence Goodman allows his harpsichord, both how much he plays and his high profile in the sound mix. On this disc (the 17th in the Hanover Band’s Haydn symphony cycle), the obtrusive harpsichord completely spoils my enjoyment. One example: its virtual obliteration of Haydn’s lovely string shadings in the Andante of Symphony No. 23 drives me to distraction. Listeners who prefer to hear what Haydn wrote, rather than such insensitive interpolations, should steer well clear. Graham Lock