Various Artists

Haydn: Orchestral Music and Concertos

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Back before the war, far less of Haydn's orchestral music was known than what is known now. Back in the '30s and '40s, only a handful of his 104 symphonies were regularly programmed or recorded. But while we knew less of Haydn's orchestral music, thankfully what was known was performed by the best possible conductors and orchestras. And, even more thankfully, most of those conductors and orchestras appear on this four-disc set from Andante: Bruno Walter and the Vienna Philharmonic, Arturo Toscanini and the New York Philharmonic, Sergey Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony, and Thomas Beecham and his own London Philharmonic. Each performance is highly individualistic, totally convincing, and absolutely thrilling. Walter's 1938 Military Symphony is noble, lyrical, and, recorded ten days before the Anschluss, touched with fear at the trumpet fanfare and percussion explosion in the Allegretto. Toscanini's 1929 Clock Symphony is poised, powerful, and touched with magnificence in the Adagio introduction. Koussevitzky's 1936 No. 102 in B flat major is witty, wistful, graceful, and touched with the infinite in the opening Largo. Beecham's October 1935 and February 1936 No. 99 in E flat major is saucy, sentimental, and touched by the sublime in the Adagio. And in addition to four more great symphonies, including Walter's Oxford and Koussevitzky's Surprise, this set also has four great concertos including Emanuel Feuermann's stunning Cello Concerto in D major, Szymon Goldberg's singing Violin Concerto in C major, and Wanda Landowska's stupendous Hungarian Harpsichord Concerto. It was a different world before the war, but the peaks of Haydn's symphonies still touched eternity. Aside from a faint hiss, Andante's remastering has brought these aged recordings back to life.

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