ALBUM TITLE: Joseph Haydn
WORKS: Symphonies Nos 31, 70 & 101
PERFORMER: SCO/Robin Ticciati
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 500 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Following their much-praised Schumann symphonies, Robin Ticciati and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra turn rewardingly to three of Haydn’s. A programme all in D major, even by Haydn, could be too much of a good thing; but since these three symphonies exemplify contrasting eras of his inexhaustible inventiveness with the form, the disc proves an enriching experience alike as a whole and in parts. We have the early No. 31, an exhilarating symphony-divertimento; the middle-period No. 70, at once tautly economical and endlessly surprising; and the grand yet radiantly genial London-period Clock, No. 101. The performances, though on modern instruments, pay attention to matters of period style – every repeat observed, careful balance between parts, and in No. 31 a fortepiano adds to the Adagio’s beguilingly intertwined solo voices. The SCO is everywhere on wonderfully characterful form; its close rapport with the conductor produces music-making so appealingly fresh that such minor idiosyncrasies as Ticciati’s habitual slowing for trios in Scherzo movements make complete sense in the moment.
More vigorously dramatised recordings of all three works can be found: for instance, the more zestful No. 31 by Adám Fischer and the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, and the Haydn of Ticciati’s two great mentors, Simon Rattle (No. 70) and Colin Davis (No. 101). All three capture the feeling of Haydn’s boundary-enlarging that I miss here. But taken on its own relaxed terms, this disc gives continuous pleasure, and its booklet contains, unusually, three admirably complementary long essays. Max Loppert