Haydn: Symphony No. 82; Symphony No. 83; Symphony No. 84; Symphony No. 85; Symphony No. 86; Symphony No. 87

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: Virgin Veritas
WORKS: Symphony No. 82; Symphony No. 83; Symphony No. 84; Symphony No. 85; Symphony No. 86; Symphony No. 87
PERFORMER: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment/Sigiswald Kuijken
CATALOGUE NO: VBD 5 61659 2 Reissue (1989)
The Nimbus set is a sample from its cycle of Haydn symphonies now nearing completion. Recorded in the spacious Great Hall (Haydnsaal) of the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, the orchestra sounds warm-hearted and welcoming. Modern instruments are used, but incorporate many features of period orchestras; when complete, the set will probably replace the Dorati as benchmark. No. 94 with Fischer uses an old score with textual mistakes, but otherwise all bodes well for the finished set. Good booklet notes and excellent value for money.

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Virgin’s Paris Symphonies, now some ten years old, are well performed in a cool, sophisticated way. Bruno Weil’s set, also on original instruments, is more dynamic and the tempi quicker (compare No. 82’s two opening movements). Bernstein’s historic series is with a massive orchestra, but thoughtfully presented. HC Robbins Landon