Top Notch Haydn
Tom Poore | South Euclid, OH | 08/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
This is Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra at their best in Haydn. While they might lack the bumptious quality of the old Bernstein/NYP recordings, here the playing is lithe, intelligent, and alert. During the 60's and early 70's, Columbia often ruined fine performances with dry amd gritty recorded sound, but this recording is far more listenable than some of Columbia's more egregious examples.
Szell had a reputation for wringing the spontaneity out of an orchestra. (A famous Szell quote: "I want this phrase to sound completely spontaneous--however, as the result of meticulous planning.") But in these performances, he and the Clevelanders find the joy and wit of mature Haydn, something most recordings miss."
Haydn, Szell, And Cleveland
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 12/21/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In the twenty-four years, from 1946 until his death at age 73 in July 1970, that he was music director, George Szell transformed the Cleveland Orchestra from a provincial musical outfit in a town that nobody took seriously to a world-reknowned powerhouse in the classical music world. One of the ways he did this, even though his methods were often seen as dictatorial, was to emphasize the Viennese classical period as personified by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and, in particular, Haydn.
It is Haydn that is the focus of this classic recording, made in the late 1960s for Columbia, of Papa Haydn's first two "London" symphonies--No. 93 In D Major, and No. 94 In G Major, the justifiably-nicknamed "Surprise" symphony. Szell's approach to Haydn, both here and on other recordings of Haydn symphonies that he and the Cleveland Orchestra made, is to be precise but also to bring out the composer's inexhaustible supply of wit (including a truly shocking bassoon "belch" in the Andante of the 93rd Symphony). Like Leonard Bernstein's, Eugen Jochum's, and Sir Colin Davis's recordings of this composer, Szell's is "Big Band" Haydn without the bombast. The fact that this recording is four decades old doesn't diminish the quality, which is enhanced by Sony's remastering. Every detail is bought out, and the genius of Haydn shines through, propelled by Szell's direction and the Cleveland Orchestra's performance.
An essential recording for anyone interested in Haydn or Szell or the great orchestra they have there in northeastern Ohio."