René Jacobs / Bernarda Fink / Freiburger Barockorchester

Haydn: Symphonies no. 91 & 92 "Oxford"; Scena di Berenice

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Rene Jacobs was a great countertenor who became a great conductor. While his singing was always wonderful in the context of a whole performance, his conducting is always marvelous and it is the context. His recordings of Mozart's Così fan tutti and Haydn's Creation have been among the best since the '70s and certainly the best authentic performances, and this 2004 recording of Haydn's Symphonies No. 91 and No. 92, plus his Scena di Berenice is easily in the same league. In the symphonies, Haydn's last symphonies for Paris, Jacobs' conducting is strong and subtle, dramatic and lyric, colorful and contrapuntal, and his interpretations are warm, witty, and deeply human. In the Scena di Berenice, a work premiered in the same concert as Haydn's last London Symphony, mezzo soprano Bernarda Fink's singing is passionate and controlled, emotional and objective, supremely beautiful and deeply affecting. Throughout, the playing of the Freiburger Barockorchester is crisp and clear and Harmonia Mundi's sound is rich and real.

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