Classical CD Reviews

HAYDN: Symphony No. 6 “Le Matin”; Violin Concerto in G; Symphony No. 82, “The Bear” – Aisslinn Nosky, v./ Handel and Haydn Soc./ Harry Christophers – Coro

Plastic infectiousness of invention provides the rubric for this spirited, stylish presentation of three of Haydn’s lively creations, performed with eager enthusiasm by H&H under Chrisophers.

Published on September 15, 2013

HAYDN: Symphony No. 6 in D Major “Le Matin”; Violin Concerto in G Major; Symphony No. 82 in C Major, “The Bear” – Aisslinn Nosky, v./ Handel and Haydn Society/ Harry Christophers  – Coro COR16113, 69:19 [Distr. by Allegro] ****:

Conductor Harry Christophers and his Handel and Haydn Society forces make excellent sense of Haydn’s works, recorded (22, 24 February 2013) at Symphony Hall, Boston, with the infrequent “Le Matins” Symphony’s holding pride of place.  This 1761 first of triptych provided for Haydn an impressive introduction to his new employer at the time, Prince Anton Ersterhazy of Eisenstadt. In concertante style, the music features rewarding passages for flute, bassoon, and violin. The first movement Adagio – Allegro rather pictures a sunrise and a cockerel’s greeting the new day.  The horn introduces a false recapitulation later on, a technique found suitable for his Eroica Symphony. The ternary Adagio moves to an extended, central Andante, and then returns, the woodwinds silent for the entire progression. The color indulges in a more antique sound, perhaps in homage to Italian masters Corelli and Locatelli. The Menuet has its most alluring moment in the Trio, in which bassoon and double bass engage in colloquy. The excited flute starts off the Mannheim rockets of the Allegro finale, a gently bubbly movement that gives equal moments of virtuosity to the cello, horns, and first violin.

Concertmaster Aisslin Nosky steps forward for Haydn’s relatively modest G Major Violin Concerto (c. 1756), whose music moves along conventional Italian lines set forth by Vivaldi and Albinioni. Lyrical and sweet, the Concerto makes fewer demands on Nosky’s bravura style than the more famous C Major Concerto. The violin sails over suspensions in the strings, the melodic tissue entering in and out of the textures ritornello style. We might easily attribute the genial work to Viotti. The Adagio highlights Nosky’s sweet sound, naturally attuned to the late Baroque style that Haydn exploits, especially given Nosky’s eight-year association with both I FURIOSI and Tefelmusik. The final Allegro abandons the gentle, bucolic ethos of the prior movements to burst into animated rhythmic life. The divided strings answer each other with pithy verve, and Nosky’s fingers have to move. If Haydn here imitates fleet Vivaldi or Tartini, the homage rewards all principals.

The 1785 “Paris” Symphony L’ours (the Bear) rings with a hearty brio from the opening flourish.  Strings, winds, and tympani (John Grimes) collaborate with a muscular intensity that does not suffer diminution from the original-instrument sonority. A veritable whirlwind of energy, the Vivace assai under Christophers points musically to Haydn’s naturally furious heir Beethoven. The Allegretto proceeds as a theme and double-variations, a form Beethoven would employ in his Ninth Symphony. Two themes, alternately in major and minor, in martial and reflective moods, respectively, evolve and intertwine with studied poise and buoyant jollity under Christophers. The pompous Menuetto urges the tympani as forward as the bright strings and oboe (Stephen Hammer). We have the real sense that Haydn could explore with the larger sonorities of the Paris Loge Olympique orchestra in ways the relatively constricted forces at Esterhazy would not permit. The Finale: Vivace provides the epithet for the Symphony “the Bear” by way of drone figures that end on glorious trills in various orchestral choirs. Driven with eager vigor, the music communicates that plastic infectiousness of invention that makes Haydn immortal.

—Gary Lemco




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