Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra / Wolfgang Sawallisch

Haydn: The Seasons HOB XXI:3

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Wolfgang Sawallisch has never been a name with the marquee appeal of his contemporaries among conductors (probably a good thing in the case of Herbert von Karajan), but an acquaintance with his career and recorded legacy is well worth cultivating. His training reached back to the interwar period in Germany, where the Late in life, when he could have kicked back and collected his accolades and honorary degrees, he ascended the podium of the Philadelphia Orchestra, transplanting himself as a septuagenarian to a strange land, simply because he was intrigued by American orchestras as products primarily of patronage rather than government support. Shortly after that move he returned to Germany, in 1994, to conduct Haydn's oratorio Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and Chorus. The live performance was very cleanly recorded and released in 2010 by the Profil label -- with no explanation for the 16-year time lag. Perhaps the cause was simply the growing appreciation of Sawallisch's legacy; if so, it was a good choice for that purpose. This is so even though Sawallisch's specialty was the late German Romantics, certainly not Haydn. He accordingly produced a warm large-orchestra version of Die Jahreszeiten that could certainly be described as old-school. He makes the piece sound a bit like it was written by Brahms, and that's not a bad thing; the choir is very well honed to a gentle yet lyrical smoothness. Among the soloists, bass Alfred Muff is a standout, with subtle phrasing and a low-volume vibrato that takes a little bit of getting used to but that matches Sawallisch's overall interpretation very well. Soprano Ruth Ziesak, as Jane, and tenor Robert Gambill deliver more conventional but entirely competent performances. Historical instruments bring out more detail in Die Jahreszeiten, but Sawallisch completely avoids the cutesy factor that sometimes plagues this work, and his version deserves strong consideration from buyers looking for a standard symphony-orchestra performances. Booklet notes are in German and English, with the English version of the oratorio's text relegated to the English section of the booklet rather than being presented in parallel with the German in which the music is sung.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons), Hob 21:3
1 6:20
2 4:07
3 0:33
4 4:04
5 0:32
6 6:42
7 1:05
8 5:38
9 5:36
10 4:19
11 3:09
12 4:45
13 0:57
14 4:19
15 3:25
16 4:49
17 2:27
18 4:11
19 4:33

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons), Hob 21:3
1 1:53
2 8:50
3 1:04
4 3:21
5 0:48
6 3:57
7 0:31
8 4:30
9 3:04
10 1:46
11 2:46
12 1:24
13 4:03
14 1:13
15 2:28
16 0:22
17 3:43
18 0:46
19 4:42
20 0:21
21 5:58
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