Haydn Symphonies Nos. 52, 53 ‘Imperial’ & 59 ‘Fire’

Franz Joseph Haydn Symphonies Nos. 52, 53 ‘Imperial’ & 59 ‘Fire’—Royal Northern Sinfonia/Rebecca Miller (Signum 434)

Here’s another CD discovered in our stacks as we combine two library databases into one. This disc was released last year and features typically well-crafted but lesser-known Haydn symphonies. It’s hard to believe that there could ever have been professional musicians who held Papa Haydn’s music in low esteem. But back in the 19th century, Mily Balakirev, the leader of Russia’s ‘mighty handful’ group of composers including Mussorgsky, Borodin and Rimsky-Korsakov, described Haydn as “that genius of petty bourgeois music … which arouses a strong thirst for beer”. These three symphonies are not certifiable masterpieces, but there’s nothing here that will drive one to drink. And the performances are by the Royal Northern Sinfonia, of which The Guardian has said, “There is no better chamber orchestra in Britain” Conductor Rebecca Miller is an Oberlin grad.

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