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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: May 2008
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 26 minutes 58 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 98 in B flat major
first performed on 2 March 1792

Adagio  [4'58]
Finale: Presto  [8'14]

Other recordings available for download
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Composed early in 1792 and premiered on 2 March, three weeks before the ‘Surprise’, No 98 in B flat major is a more serious, inward-looking work, at least in its first two movements. ‘The new Symphony in B flat was given, and its first and last Allegros encored’, noted Haydn laconically in his London Notebook. The success of the intently argued opening movement testifies to the sophistication of Haydn’s audience. Its fertile main theme, adumbrated starkly in B flat minor in the slow introduction, is worked with dazzling ingenuity and logic. Contrast comes courtesy of a sustained, chromatic oboe melody over a pedal point near the end of the exposition. After one of Haydn’s most intricate and stressful contrapuntal developments, the recapitulation continues to explore the theme’s polyphonic potential before finally presenting it in its bluntest, most elemental form.

It was the musicologist and composer Donald Tovey who first suggested that the Adagio was Haydn’s requiem for his friend Mozart, who had died the previous December. Certainly the echoes of the ‘Jupiter’ Symphony’s Andante are hard to miss in this sublime movement, in full sonata form. In the recapitulation, the hymn-like main theme (which Haydn seems to have modelled on ‘God save the King’) is poignantly intensified, first with a counterpoint for solo cello, then in woodwind imitation, and finally in an aching new chromatic harmonization. Even the minuet, with its suavely melodious trio, is less flamboyant than those in Nos 93, 94 and 96. There is a delicious moment in the second part when the music dips insouciantly from F major to A flat for a demure flute solo. Haydn the humorist is immediately to the fore in the irrepressible 6/8 finale. The cheeky second theme belongs to the world of Rossini’s Figaro (the Italian was a great admirer of Haydn’s symphonies); and the comedy continues in the development, with its violin solos for Salomon in wildly contrasting keys, and the huge coda. Near the end, after what sounds like a pause for a cadenza, Haydn slows down the main theme with mock solemnity, and then decorates it with a ‘cembalo [i.e. fortepiano] solo’ for himself—an effect that doubtless brought the house down in 1792.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: Symphonies Nos 92-3 & 97-9' (LSO0702)
Haydn: Symphonies Nos 92-3 & 97-9
MP3 £9.25FLAC £9.25ALAC £9.25 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £13.90ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £13.90 LSO0702  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

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