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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: 27 minutes 13 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 99 in E flat major
first performed at the Hanover Square Rooms, London, on 10 February 1794

Adagio  [8'24]
Finale: Vivace  [4'29]

Other recordings available for download
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
After No 99’s premiere at the Hanover Square Rooms on 10 February, the Morning Chronicle wrote that ‘it rouses and affects every emotion of the soul.—It was received with rapturous applause.’ For the first time in a symphony Haydn was able to call on clarinets, whose presence is immediately felt in the slow introduction’s majestically sonorous opening chord. Then, as the chord dies away, Haydn tellingly exploits the clarinet’s deep, chalumeau register as a sustained bass to strings and bassoon. The introduction is Haydn’s most harmonically adventurous to date, with an emphasis on mediant, or ‘third-related’, keys that will have repercussions later in the symphony. After a dramatic pause on a unison C flat, this note is enharmonically reinterpreted as B natural, heralding a brief excursion to the exotically remote key of E minor.

Repeated emphasis on the introduction’s alien C flat gives a tangy, chromatic flavour to the Vivace assai’s sweeping tuttis. Most striking, though, is the way the popular-style second subject, breezing in like an afterthought, gradually usurps the musical narrative. After dominating the development (which slips almost immediately to C major), it virtually crowds out the main theme from the recapitulation, generating one of those exhilarating expansions that led Tovey, rather misleadingly, to equate Haydn’s recapitulations with Beethoven’s codas.

‘The effect of the wind instruments in the second movement was enchanting’, wrote the Morning Chronicle, a reference to the beautiful contrapuntal elaboration of the opening theme by flute, oboes and bassoon. Set in the luminous, ‘third-related’ key of G major, this is music at once tender and exalted, with a dramatic, even anguished, development and a recapitulation that works the serene second theme to a disturbing climax replete with military-style fanfares. The powerfully symphonic minuet continues the work’s ‘mediant’ tendency by setting its wistful Ländler trio in C major. Clarinets then oversee a subtle lead-back to the E flat of the minuet. The finale, initiated by another irresistibly catchy tune, is a tour de force of kaleidoscopic orchestral colouring (the ‘second subject’ fragments the melody between instruments, like a comical mini-concerto for orchestra) and contrapuntal brilliance. The young Beethoven, who learnt far more from Haydn than he ever admitted, was so impressed with the scintillating fugato at the centre of the movement that he copied it out for study.

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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