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Giovanni Antonini & Kammerorchester Basel - Haydn 2032, Vol. 6: Lamentatione - Financial Times

For most of us a standard diary, or a five-year one at best, is sufficient for booking engagements. Imagine having one’s work schedule planned as far ahead as 2032.

That year will mark the 300th anniversary of Haydn’s birth, and the Joseph Haydn Stiftung of Basel and Alpha recording label have jointly committed themselves to recording a complete cycle of the composer’s symphonies in time for the celebrations. Their performing colleague on this lengthy journey is the conductor Giovanni Antonini, working with two orchestras, his own Il Giardino Armonico and the Kammerorchester Basel.

Will they all still be as keen at the end? The answer is surely yes: if there is one composer who is guaranteed to be life-sustaining, it is the ever-uplifting Haydn. There are barely two of his 104 symphonies that are the same.

Unlike other intrepid performers, such as Antal Dorati and Adam Fischer, who have made an expedition to this symphonic summit, Antonini is progressing one disc at a time. Each has a programme assembled around one of the symphonies with a nickname so as to attract buyers. This volume, entitled “Lamentatione”, gathers together four symphonies, headed by No. 26 bearing that title. Antonini’s way with Haydn is engagingly lithe and buoyant, midway between elegance and bravura, and rendered by the Kammerorchester Basel, playing here on period instruments, with eager concentration.

The largest of the symphonies in this selection is No. 79 in F, rooted in dance rhythms; the smallest is the early Symphony No. 3. The main event, though, is the neat pairing of the Symphony No. 30, “Alleluia”, and Symphony No. 26, “Lamentatione”, each of them weaving in ideas from sacred music, which Haydn typically makes very much his own.

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Financial Times
29 June 2018