Mariss Jansons

Haydn: Missa B-Dur "Harmoniemesse"; Symphony No. 88; Sinfonia D-Dur

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The first half this disc, performances of Haydn's Sinfonia Overture in D major and Symphony in G major No. 88 so bright they're nearly blinding, is fabulous. Conductor Mariss Jansons and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks are supremely light on their feet, dancing across the bar lines with dash and brilliance, yet delivering just enough force in the fast movements and just the right amount of lyrical tenderness in the symphony's Largo. Jansons deftly blends and balances winds, strings, and brass with the occasional touch of tympani to deliver flexible yet riveting accounts of these works. The other half, the composer's final Mass, the Harmoniemesse, is fabulous but flawed, marred by the performance of the Bavarian Radio Chorus. Though a smallish group, its tone is entirely too full and effusive for the work. One can tell there accuracy and beauty in the singing, but the textures are too rich and lush, and much of the detail gets lost. This could be the fault of the chorus, the conductor, or the engineering, but whatever the reason, only half of this disc is fabulous, and while anyone with a strong interest in the composer may want to try the first half, the second half may disappointing.

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