For the fifth volume in its projected series of the complete symphonies of Franz Joseph Haydn, the Kammerorchester Basel performs one early and two middle symphonies, along with an obscure symphony by a younger contemporary, Joseph Martin Kraus. Conducted by Giovanni Antonini, the orchestra delivers brisk and uncluttered readings on period instruments, and the liveliness of the performances of the Symphony No. 80 in D minor, the Symphony No. 81 in G major, and the Symphony No. 19 in D major make this album fully enjoyable, even if these works aren't among Haydn's most popular or best known. However, the curious will likely start out with Kraus' Symphony in C minor, a work influenced by Christoph Willibald Gluck and Haydn, and like Haydn's Symphony No. 80, a symphony in the "Sturm und Drang" style of the mid-18th century. The album's title, L'Homme de Génie, certainly applies to Haydn, though Kraus' music is perhaps more ingenious than the work of a true genius. Even so, its orchestral sonorities and occasional oddities show a unique understanding of the Classical symphony, and the comparison with Haydn's Symphony No. 80 is apt. The series is part of an ongoing project by the Joseph Haydn Stiftung Foundation of Basel and Alpha Classics to release the complete symphonies by 2032, Haydn's 300th anniversary, so this volume will appeal most to collectors and Haydn aficionados.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 80 in D minor, Hob. I:80|
|Symphony No. 81 in G major, Hob. I:81|
|Symphony in C minor VB 142|
|Symphony No. 19 in D major, Hob. I:19|