Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Franz Joseph HAYDN
Symphonies 88 and 89 plus Sinfonia Concertante for violin, cello, oboe and bassoon

Lucy van Dael (violin), Wouter Muller (cello), Ku Ebbinge (oboe) and Danny Bond (bassoon).Orchestra of the 18th Century - Franz Bruggen
recorded at Vredenberg, Utrecht, The Netherlands, Symphony No. 88 - November 1988, Symphony No. 89 - 20-21 February 1997, Sinfonia Concertante - November 1998.
Philips 462 602-2
 Amazon UK 

Now that many of the major companies are clearing out contracts, artists and the like, and are also in the throes of selling out to conglomerates etc., they will have, I am sure certain recordings held which now will be ripe for issue. This will allow them to gain whatever revenue they can whilst not having to record very much new material. The present disc would appear to fall into this category. This disc is made up all of new items all going back between 4 years (the Sinfonia Concertante, and over 10 years for the other two items. These are released at full price which seems a little strange to me.

The problem with this type of repertoire is that playing styles are changing rapidly, and if these works were recorded today, it is possible that the style would be a little different. Luckily for us, Franz Bruggen and his band always was one of the better period orchestras and often played with more style and greater accuracy than some of the contemporaneous groups when the older of these recordings were made.

We have here performances of three of Haydn's major symphonic works, all played very well, in first class digital stereo. Rhythms are well sprung, instruments well blended and tempi are all non-controversial. The lightness of phrasing is there, as is the accuracy of the intonation, and everything sounds neat and tidy.

What to me seems to be missing is the interpretative spark. To hear what I mean, we only have to compare this issue with the '54 issue of the 88th Symphony with that recorded by Wilhelm Furtwangler. O.K. we have a modern orchestra, with steel strings, plus conventional woodwind and brass, and numbers obviously greater than of the period band - but such life in the earlier performance.

Listening to recorded music should try to convey the effects of a live perfomance and that is precisely what Furtwangler does (although also caught in the studio). The present issue, while perfectly acceptable, with no obvious flaws in the playing or the style, sounds just like a studio bound playthrough. This is in spite of all the characterisation and research which has gone into the preparation of the current disc by Bruggen and his players.

I hope that you might enjoy this disc more than I did - it is not that it is bad, it certainly isn't. It is just that there are better performances about.


John Phillips

            • zzzzSummary Good, stylish, but a little earthbound performances of three of Haydn's mature symphonic works, in a first issue of a ten year old recording at full price.


John Phillips

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