This is the second volume in a projected series of Haydn's 'London' Symphonies with Hickox and his excellent period band, Collegium Musicum 90. The previous issue included some forceful readings, including a rather fierce 'London' but was on the whole, a good start to the series. This issue certainly improves on that with genial readings of the 'Surprise', 'Clock' and the ubiquitous #102, a favourite of Sir Thomas Beecham.
Hickox adopts sensible speeds in the allegro movements and the miraculous slow movement of the 'Clock' is wonderfully paced with the atmosphere of 'tick-tocking' and absolute joy. He is in no doubt, aided by the sweetly refreshing sounds of the CM90 whose period instruments add geniality and style to the proceedings. Generally one can observe delightful shifts of tempo that are subtle but always well managed thus increasing the appeal of the music.
The 'Surprise' Symphony is also genially done and the several humorous bits come out quite perfectly. Notes and presentation are as striking as Chandos can possibly do whilst a well filled, airy recording lends a certain class to the proceedings. All in all, this seems to be an extremely promising cycle of the 'London' symphonies that is improving all the time.
Copyright © 2001, Gerald Fenech