Haydn: Symphony No. 88 in G; Symphony No. 92 in G (Oxford); Symphony No. 94 in G (Surprise)

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COMPOSERS: Haydn
LABELS: DG Masters
WORKS: Symphony No. 88 in G; Symphony No. 92 in G (Oxford); Symphony No. 94 in G (Surprise)
PERFORMER: Vienna PO/Leonard Bernstein
CATALOGUE NO: 445 554-2 DDD
You would not expect Leonard Bernstein and the Vienna Philharmonic to produce Haydn of the transparency and lithe imaginativeness of a group like the English Concert. But this generously filled disc of three of Haydn’s most brilliant late symphonies, while it shamelessly shows off the lovely thick, Romantic sound of this orchestra, also benefits from much careful thought about articulation and dynamic contrast.

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Bernstein responds to Haydn’s boldness, humour and drama with typical intensity. Haydn would surely have loved his brashly swinging minuets, even his lavishly slow slow movements. The recordings, made in the Musikverein in 1983, 1984 and 1985, sound warm and immediate, providing an aural image from the conductor’s position rather than from the middle of row twenty. Only the most severe dogmatist need hesitate. Stephen Pettitt