Thomas Fey / Heidelberger Sinfoniker

Haydn: Complete Symphonies, Vol. 18

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German historical-performance specialist Thomas Fey has issued a complete Haydn symphony cycle at a leisurely pace, taking time to craft detailed readings of each piece and finding much that is new in many of them. Fans of Fey's series will be pleased to see that he has included the Sinfonia Concertante for violin, cello, oboe, and bassoon in B flat major, Hob. 1/105, in his series, for this work, unique in Haydn's oeuvre, reveals the strengths of his approach. Throughout on this album of late Haydn works, Fey gives lots of emphasis to brass and percussion, and in the case of the Sinfonia Concertante that's a departure from earlier versions (such as the Nonesuch classic by Karl Ristenpart and the Saar Chamber Orchestra) that have drawn on the French roots of the sinfonia concertante genre and offered lightness and sparkling melodies. The weightier approach loses none of the charm and works well in view of the unusual instrumental recitative, akin to the one in Beethoven's Ninth, that opens the finale. The two symphonies come off as substantial, unconventional works, again with the historical instruments used to broaden the overall scope. Fey is as usual backed solidly by Hänssler's engineers, even as the Symphony No. 89 in F major, Hob. 1/89, was recorded in a different location (a "natural horn academy," charmingly enough) from the other two pieces. A very worthy entry in Fey's often revelatory series.

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