Sylvain Cambreling / SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra

Haydn: Sinfonien "La Chasse", "Lamentatione" & "L'Ours"

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French conductor Sylvain Cambreling, mostly a specialist in contemporary music, has turned to the Classical period with intriguing results. Recording with the cumbersomely named Southwest German Radio Orchestra of Baden-Baden and Freiburg, he here offers entirely innovative recordings of three familiar Haydn symphonies. It's possible to state that he coaxes precise playing from this mid-level orchestra and that nearly every movement is done in an unusual way, but beyond that, reactions to this recording are likely to be personal. Start with the opening bars of the Symphony No. 73 in D major, Hob. 1/73, "La Chasse," which may according to the listener's orientation seem etherally light or fussy and wandering. Try the brisk clip of the slow movement of the Symphony No. 82 in C major, Hob. 1/82, "The Bear," or the tense and utterly unjovial minuet of the Symphony No. 73, which comes out sounding like one of Cambreling's specialties, Stravinsky. All of these run counter to the usual images of Haydn, but all are worked out in detail and expose details of the music that have lain untouched until this point. Nowhere less than bracing, these may be the most unusual Haydn symphony recordings since the historical-instrument readings of Thomas Fey and his Heidelberger Sinfoniker.

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