While the works of Haydn are still much revered, the most commonly heard portion of his canon comes from his later works -- the later symphonies, string quartets, and so on. So much can be learned, however, from exploring some of Haydn's earlier works, not to mention the fact that many of Haydn's earlier compositions are every bit as enjoyable and musically fulfilling as the later ones. The aim of Sinfonia Classica on this premiere album is to showcase four less frequently heard works: Two Divertimentos and the Symphony No. 22 and No. 49. The Divertimento in A major features an incredibly virtuosic horn part, while Symphony No. 22 uses two English horns, both atypical but thrilling characteristics. Much of the playing on this album is quite good, particularly the soaring and triumphant first horn. The meat of most of these works comes from the string section, and it is here that some inconsistencies arise. When playing tutti, the strings sound full, well-articulated, and nicely in tune. Solo passages and sections using reduced numbers of strings are quite a different story. In such instances, intonation becomes very sketchy (particularly from the concertmaster) and the overall sound quality becomes hesitant and timid. This inconsistency between tutti and ripieno sound becomes more and more distracting as the album goes on.
Haydn: Symphonies and Divertimenti Review
by Mike D. Brownell