Magazine article Gramophone

Haydn * Cimarosa

Magazine article Gramophone

Haydn * Cimarosa

Article excerpt

Haydn * Cimarosa

'Haydn 2032--No 4, II distratto' Cimarosa II maestro dl capella (a) Haydn Symphonies--No 12; No 60, 'II distratto'; No 70

(a) Riccardo Novaro bar II Giardino Armonico / Giovanni Antonini Alpha (F) ALPHA674; (F) (2) [LP] ALPHA675 (80'. DDD * T/t)

Giovanni Antonini and II Giardino Armonico once again come up trumps in their seemingly haphazard selection of symphonies from during and after Haydn's Sturm und Drang period. Only seemingly so: there's a clear link between the anarchy of Cimarosa's bujfo scena II maestro di cappella and the pantomime of 11 distratto, a symphony assembled from the orchestral music for an Eszterhaza comedy. This is the six-movement symphony that famously features the orchestra tuning up a few bars into the finale, not to mention itself becoming distracted, in the first movement, on an unresolving subdominant chord before suddenly realising why it had gone there in the first place. It would be easy to play this purely for laughs but Antonini and his players are suitably straight-faced, and the jokes come off all the better for it. Riccardo Novaro, too, is in fine voice as the stuck-up Kapellmeister who is sent up by his players.

There's more in this vein. Symphony No 70 is another 'entertainment' symphony--at least until its finale, where Sturm und Drang breaks through once again in a fierce contrapuntal cock-fight in which a five-note knocking motif finds itself doing duty as tune, accompaniment and fugal tag. Thomas Fey's Heidelberg recording played around with the timing and tempo of the tag, distorting the whole architecture of this remarkable movement. Antonini once again plays it straight and shows that the subversiveness is all in the music--you only have to trust it. Fey, it seems, doesn't, and it falls flat; Antonini does and you find yourself hitting repeat to catch it all over again. …

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