LABELS: DG Archiv Collectors Edition
WORKS: Symphony No. 26; Symphony No. 35; Symphony No. 38 Symphony No. 39; Symphony No. 41; Symphony No. 42; Symphony No. 43; Symphony No. 44; Symphony No. 45; Symphony No. 46; Symphony No. 47; Symphony No. 48; Symphony No. 49; Symphony No. 50; Symphony No. 51; S
PERFORMER: English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
CATALOGUE NO: 463 731-2 Reissue
‘When we speak of Joseph Haydn,’ wrote Ernst Ludwig Gerber in his Lexicon der Tonkünstler of 1790-92, ‘we think of one of our greatest men: great in small things and even greater in large… Everything speaks when he sets his orchestra in motion.’ Gerber was among the first to recognise ‘new and sur prising’ traits in Haydn’s output, particularly among his Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) works of the early 1770s. Espousing spontaneity and passion as sources of creativity, Sturm und Drang despised the new rationalism of the Enlightenment, offering darkness and pessimism to counterpoise its orderly logic.
Minor-key angst, melodic fury, and vehement dynamic contrasts inform Haydn’s symphonies from this period, and while they’re unlikely ever to attain the popularity of his last 12 (written for London two decades later), the examples heard here are certainly no less remarkable. Consider No. 26 in D minor, Lamentatione, with its austere plainsong interpolations, the terse canonic minuet of No. 44 in E minor, Trauer, or the daringly reductive finale of No. 45 in F sharp minor, the Farewell.
Trevor Pinnock’s insightful accounts recreate these scores without technical compromise or expressive reserve – each performance is studiously conceived and brilliantly executed. This set is also tastefully presented, with a full reprint of Nicholas Kenyon’s helpful booklet notes. Only Bruno Weil’s far less comprehensive overview with Tafelmusik (Sony) approaches the wild impulse and drama that Pinnock and the English Concert manage to sustain throughout these spellbinding recordings. Nobody interested in the evolution of the Classical symphony should be without them. Michael Jameson