Haydn26 - Symphonies Nos 107, 11, 32, 15. Heidelberger Sinfoniker / Johannes Klumpp. © 2022 Profil Medien GmbH

CD Spotlight

Exhilarating Interpretations

Unknown Haydn symphonies, unreservedly recommended by GERALD FENECH

'... gloriously expressive playing ...'


This Hänssler cycle dedicated to the complete set of Haydn symphonies was set in motion some twenty years ago. Now, after all this time, the project is about to reach its final peak, which started with Volume 25. In conductor Johannes Klumpp's words: 'Our shared path begins quite a long way down the hill. Our endeavour is to present the symphonies still missing from our complete catalogue in chronological order, allowing us to take a close look at the compositional development of this symphonic Titan. We invite you to get to know Joseph Haydn through his originality, to observe him and take him to your hearts. His early music is scarcely ever played, and even well-informed insiders among our colleagues are almost completely ignorant of it. We ourselves regard each of the recorded symphonies as a discovery that brings us pleasure.'

This chronological journey through the composer's surviving symphonies began with Volume 25. Now it continues with this issue, which comprises Nos 107, 11, 32 and 15 in that order. Regarding No 107, do not be misled by the high number. Composed about 1760/61, this is a work from Haydn's early days. Before his time at Esterházy, he was employed with Graf Morzin, and there is no doubt that this piece was commissioned by the latter. Again in Klumpp's words: 'All the symphonies on this CD are practically never played, so the aim is to introduce them to a modern audience to be enjoyed in all their vividness, liveliness, musicality and joie de vivre. This is a programme that takes us on a wonderful trip with Haydn from his time in the service of Graf Morzin to his arrival at Esterházy. A new era begins and we show you the steps by which it was reached.'

Symphony No 107 in B flat is laid out in a normal manner: a fast movement is followed by a peaceful second, and then a whirlwind finale. In the work, Haydn refrains from playing about with the sequence of movements, with which he was constantly experimenting as a young man.

Listen — Haydn: Allegro (Symphony No 107)
(HC 22019 track 1, 0:01-1:00) ℗ 2022 Profil Medien GmbH :

Symphony No 11 in E flat begins quite differently: slow, tenderly, delineated, after which a strong second movement stands in stark contrast to the first. This agitated music is followed by a courtly and well-mannered minuet, with a trio whose chromatic lines and lapse into the minor make it seem to be out of context. The return of the minuet, though, brings everything into place. The finale is sprightily syncopated, now soft then loud. This opening is followed by cascades that point the way to heaven: an elegantly sparkling essence of champagne.

Listen — Haydn: Presto (Symphony No 11)
(HC 22019 track 7, 1:07-2:04) ℗ 2022 Profil Medien GmbH :

In Symphony No 32 it is only the inner movements that swap places. The Poco adagio is thus all the more strongly contrasted with the finale. The second movement minuet has the prestigious character of court music, and the trio again offers total contrast as in Symphony No 11. The outer movements are full of vivacious music, at times stormy, at times humorous, which give this symphony a real knock-out flavour.

Listen — Haydn: Adagio ma non troppo (Symphony No 32)
(HC 22019 track 10, 0:01-0:54) ℗ 2022 Profil Medien GmbH :

With Symphony No 15 we arrive at last at Esterházy Palace, and this too is an unconventional piece: an opening movement in ternary A-B-A form with a slow beginning and end. The middle movements are reversed, while the final Presto is full of vigorous music brimming with joy and high spirits. A fine Esterházy debut that was to lead to decades of service in this princely household.

Listen — Haydn: Adagio - Presto (Symphony No 15)
(HC 22019 track 12, 4:44-5:39) ℗ 2022 Profil Medien GmbH :

Johannes Klumpp is an expert of this repertoire, and these exhilarating interpretations fully justify the admiration he commands from both players and critics. Indeed, his Haydn seems to catch fire with each stroke of his baton, and his conducting has a genial warmth that allows him to unearth even the tiniest of orchestral details that are so vital in a Haydn score. Not surprising then that his Heidelberger Sinfoniker players respond with some gloriously expressive playing worthy of the composer, whose works still sound as fresh as when they were first written. An inspiring project that deserves nothing but an unreserved recommendation, even if your library is already stacked with Haydnesque jewels. Sound and presentation are in the usual high standards we have come to expect from this prestigious label.

Copyright © 27 June 2022 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta







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