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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 2008
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 23 minutes 9 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 102 in B flat major
composer
first performed at the King's Theatre, Haymarket, London, on 2 February 1795

Largo – Vivace  [8'02]
Adagio  [5'20]
Finale: Presto  [4'29]

Other recordings available for download
Boston Baroque, Martin Pearlman (conductor)
The Hanover Band, Roy Goodman (conductor)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
No 102 in B flat major, was introduced on 2 February. This was the concert where a great chandelier crashed to the floor, though since the audience in the parterre had crowded forward to see Haydn at close range, no one suffered more than minor bruises.

In the second set of London symphonies, Haydn’s arguments become even more intricate and engrossing. And the first movement of No 102 is arguably the most challenging of all. It begins with an ethereal slow introduction whose initial five-note phrase (following a long-held unison B flat) will play a crucial role in the main Vivace. From its explosive opening, this is Haydn at his most combative and Beethovenian. The drive and intensity of the music, peppered with violent offbeat accents, never abate; and even the main theme of the second group, heralded by a disruptive unison, is tense and restless where Haydn’s audience had come to expect a catchy, popular-style tune. The development ratchets up the tension even further: first in a rebarbative three-part canon, then, after a solo flute proposes the main theme in the alien key of C major, in a stupendous fortissimo build-up to the recapitulation.

Haydn follows this high-pressure symphonic drama with one of his loveliest meditations, an arrangement of the rhapsodic Adagio from his recent Piano Trio in F sharp minor. It is just possible that the symphony movement came first, though the evidence of the autograph, and the music’s delicately ornamental style—typical of his late keyboard slow movements—suggest otherwise. When the exposition is repeated, it is re-scored with almost impressionistic subtlety, its misty colourings enhanced with muted trumpets and muffled drums. This movement was surely in Rimsky-Korsakov’s mind when he pronounced Haydn the greatest of all orchestrators.

The stomping minuet brings us down to earth, making riotous play with a three-note figure that invades all sections of the orchestra. Haydn spices the comic antics of the finale with a streak of cussedness that brings it into line with the opening Vivace. An early review commented admiringly on the rapid, unpredictable tonal shifts within the main theme. This is another movement that left its mark on Beethoven, not least the coda, where the main theme disintegrates and stammers to a halt before the madcap final send-off—an idea Haydn’s one-time pupil took up in the finale of his Symphony No 4, in the same key.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009


Other albums featuring this work
'Haydn: Lord Nelson Mass' (CKD426)
Haydn: Lord Nelson Mass
MP3 £8.00FLAC £10.00ALAC £10.00 Studio Master: FLAC 24-bit 96 kHz £18.00ALAC 24-bit 96 kHz £18.00 CKD426  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Haydn: Symphonies Nos 101 & 102' (CDH55127)
Haydn: Symphonies Nos 101 & 102
MP3 £4.99FLAC £4.99ALAC £4.99Buy by post £5.50 CDH55127  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  

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