Haydn 2032 – No 6, Lamentatione
Giovanni Antonini’s thematically grouped survey of Haydn’s symphonies continues with a pair of works from his Sturm und Drang period (the second half of the 1760s), along with works from either end of his long term of employment with Prince Nikolaus (‘the Magnificent’) Esterházy. The theme – ‘Lamentatione’ –and the plainchant links between the symphony of that name, No 26 in D minor, and the earlier Alleluia Symphony No 30 are clear to see. No 3 squeaks in on the merit of its slightly antique fugal finale, all 1'55" of it, which seems to have wondered in from the Op 20 Quartets. Symphony No 79, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to fit the rubric at all – not that that’s a reason not to include it; it does, after all, complete the final trio of Esterházy symphonies, along with Nos 80 and 81, which appeared on Antonini’s previous volume (1/18).
There seems little need to rehearse again my admiration for the musicianship on show in this series. This is playing of a class that has often been denied Haydn, so frequently the victim of cynical rehearse/record schedules. The leisurely pace of the ‘Haydn 2032’ project allows the players to live with the music and make sure it falls truly under the fingers by the time they find themselves under the microphones. As one listens more, one realises the extent to which Antonini and his ensembles are ‘in tune’ with Haydn – even in his most neglected symphonies – to a greater extent than almost any other band. There’s not only a fluency to the playing but a palpable joy in the corporate sound made by these musicians.
Lamentatione’s agitation and Alleluia’s celebration are characterised and played as finely as any other performances on record. The seriousness of intent behind No 3 lifts it from its status as simply ‘early Haydn’, granting it a dignity that rescues it from lazy accusations of primitiveness that often attend these works from the dawn of the Classical symphony. No 79 receives only its second period-instrument recording. Antonini captures the pure entertainment value of the work just as completely as Ottavio Dantone but there’s a greater warmth here. As for that Un poco allegro that makes such an unexpected coda to the slow movement, Antonini is less allegro, more un poco – and very pleasing it is, too.