- Symphony No. 39 in G minor ("The Fist"), H. 1/39
- Symphony No. 45 in F sharp minor ("Farewell"/"Candle"/"Letter B"), H. 1/45
- Chamber Symphony No. 1
The Munich Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of its new (as of the 2006-2007 season) director Alexander Liebreich, set out on a brave new mission. Their goal: to produce entire seasons of music under one unifying theme and include the music of Haydn in each of these themes. Impossible? Not if this album, entitled Farewell, on the ECM label is any indication. The album opens with two oddities in and of themselves: Haydn symphonies in minor keys, of which there are only 11 out of 104. The rich, round sound the orchestra produces belies the small number of musicians playing. Intonation is pristine, as is string articulation, ensemble unity, and balance between the orchestra's sections. The fast outer movements of both symphonies are attacked with invigorating, almost aggressive energy, while the slow movements and menuets are approached with the utmost grace and elegance. What's truly unique about this album, though, is the juxtaposition of the two Haydn symphonies with the "First Chamber Symphony" of Korean-born composer Isang Yun. Composed in 1987, the "Chamber Symphony" would at first seem to have little in common with Haydn. Closer listening, however, shows that not only are the compositions scored for the same small orchestral forces, but that Yun in fact treats the chamber orchestra as an exploratory tool much as Haydn did. The Munich Chamber Orchestra demonstrates its wide-ranging versatility in this performance, which is played with just as much energy, precision, and care as the Haydn works.