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Hyperion Records

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The Thames at Westminster by William James (1730-1780)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44371/4
Recording details: September 2007
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 21 minutes 19 seconds

'The Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana is finely honed and the rapport is evident, with unfailingly fine and musicianly playing' (Gramophone)

'Performances of the symphonies that are ultra-clean, pleasingly joyous and straightforwardly entertaining' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The orchestra is very well caught by the engineers, with ample bloom and no unnecessary or false highlighting of instruments. There is an excellent booklet by the ever-reliable Haydn expert Richard Wigmore and, best of all, Hyperion are offering the set at budget price, a little over £20.00 for four discs. I also like the fact that the works are all laid out in numbered order across the discs, unlike Bruggen and Davis, where the sequence is split up for some reason. The Davis cycle is cheaper and still an obvious rival but the sound is not as rich or detailed, and the Bruggen appears unavailable at present. It is a very crowded market but I reckon Hyperion deserve to do well with this one' (MusicWeb International)

'Sa splendide intégrale des Londoniennes … ces interprétations dégagent une extraordinaire vitalité' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Symphony No 96 in D major 'Miracle'
first performed in the Hanover Square Rooms, London, in April or early May 1791

Andante  [5'54]
Finale: Vivace  [3'22]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The nickname ‘Miracle’ stubbornly clings to No 96, though the ‘miracle’ in question—a chandelier crashing down without seriously injuring anyone—actually occurred during a performance of No 102. This delightful work is on the whole the lightest of the twelve. After a slow introduction that turns to D minor for its final bars, the Allegro, unusually in these symphonies, is essentially monothematic, growing from the propulsive rhythm of its wispy, fragmentary theme. A surprise deflection towards C major near the end of the exposition has more momentous consequences in the sudden C major outburst in the development, which also contains the most fake of ‘false recapitulations’, after one of Haydn’s comic-dramatic pauses. When the ‘real’ recapitulation arrives, it startlingly compresses the events of the exposition, making thrilling play with antiphonal (and, to our ears, Handelian) horn and trumpet fanfares, and climaxing on a ‘shock’ fortissimo D minor chord that echoes the move to D minor in the introduction.

In the deliciously scored G major Andante Haydn contrasts guileless rococo pastoral with a turbulent ‘developing’ fugato episode in G minor that caps any previous Haydn symphony slow movement in physical power. After serenity is restored, a long cadenza-coda for two solo violins and woodwind drifts poetically from G to E flat. The minuet, with its echt-Haydnesque blend of pomp and earthiness, is a miniature sonata-form structure, the trio a captivating Ländler for solo oboe. Taking its cue, perhaps, from Symphony No 75 in the same key (a popular work in London), the finale is a quicksilver rondo fertilized by a single theme, with a mock-heroic D minor episode and a wind-band solo near the end. Writing to Frau von Genzinger apropos a planned performance in Vienna, Haydn stressed the movement’s delicacy and the need for ‘the softest piano and a very quick tempo’.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

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