WORKS: Symphony No. 82; Symphony No. 84
PERFORMER: Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra/Hugh Wolff
CATALOGUE NO: 9031-74005-2 DDD
Haydn comes across as a rather dull and serious fellow in the accounts of three of his Paris symphonies by Ton Koopman and his authentic instrument band. Wit, sparkle and charm are not much in evidence, and the slightly recessed church acoustic in which they have been recorded dulls the colours and textures even more.
Koopman takes a Sturm und Drang approach quite out of keeping with music which was composed long after Haydn had worked the drama and tensions of that period out of his system. Tempi are fast and after a while the lack of humour becomes dispiriting: the very opposite of what Haydn should be.
Much greater pleasure is to be had from the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra under Hugh Wolff. Here the playing is light, airy and stylish and tempi are consistently well judged; the Vivacem The Bear is genuinely vivacious. Where Koopman’s woodwind tend to disappear into the murk, Wolffs are characterful. The drawback is that Wolff offers only two symphonies, clocking up a barely acceptable minimum for a full price disc of just 49.41 minutes. Fred Sansom