Harnoncourt's thrilling Haydn symphony recordings have already been feted for their sense of occasion and uninhibited directness so it is a pleasure to have them reissued again in these sumptuous presentation packs.
No. 31 is particularly enticing with its lovely horn calls in the first movement and Harnoncourt is also a pretty dab hand in the Finale of the work which sails through quite merrily. The underrated #59 remains one of my favourite symphonies as I have fond memories of my first exposure to the piece on a CBS Masterworks LP conducted by David Solomons on original instruments. Suffice to say that Harnoncourt is a persuasive advocate of the piece. Finally we have the hunting symphony "La Chasse" which also receives a rousing reading especially in the boisterous Finale.
Some time ago, Warner issued the Haydn masses recorded by Harnoncourt in a six-CD pack which obviously included the Harmoniemesse. I still remain attached to the George Guest recordings on Decca/Argo and the late lamented Richard Hickox's outings on Chandos but Harnoncourt does run those pretty close. The disc is also important for the short Cantata "Qual dubbio ormai" and the even shorter "Te Deum" – both succinctly despatched by the conductor. These two discs are ideal introductions to those discovering the composer across a wide spectrum of genres.
Copyright © 2010, Gerald Fenech.