Haydn: The Paris Symphonies Nos. 82-87by Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Of Haydn's 104 numbered symphonies, the "Paris" Symphonies (nos. 82-87) count among his most popular. Brimming with imagination and each one as delightful as the next, they meet an ideal interpreter in Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien on this splendid three-disc set. Composed in 1785 and '86 on commission from a French nobleman for performance at a Parisian concert society, they were crafted to show off the society's virtuoso orchestra -- the finest in Europe at the time -- with scintillating writing for nearly every player, including the winds. Nowadays, it's Concentus Musicus Wien that numbers among the best orchestras of Europe, especially among those who specialize in historically accurate instruments. And true to form, their playing -- inspired by Harnoncourt's fresh and lively direction -- is bold and vital, yet without skimping on elegance. Haydn fans will want to skip straight to the nicknamed symphonies: the "Bear" (after the rustic "bear dance" in the finale), the "Hen" (for the clucking oboe in the opening movement's second theme), and the "Queen" (a favorite of Marie Antoinette), each of which comes off vividly. But don't overlook the other three, which are equally inventive and enchanting. With excellent acoustics to boot, this pulse-quickening offering is sure to be one of the year's standout recordings.
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Performance CreditsNikolaus Harnoncourt Primary Artist
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