Symphony No.1 in C, Op.21
Symphony No.88 in G
Symphony No.99 in E flat
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis

Beethoven recorded in December 1975 in Brent Town Hall, Wembley, London; Haydn recorded in November 1975 in the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
5186 126
[CD/SACD Hybrid]
Duration: 78 minutes
Reviewed: April 2005
Haydn 88 escaped me on LP, so I’m delighted to catch it now – and in a transfer that relays bright and true tones. The performance is beguiling and incisive. The robust drive of the first movement’s fast music is countered by the Largo’s glowing expression, and the minuet’s earthy steps and truculent finale (Davis refusing to rush, rightly) complete a rousing performance. The E flat symphony (the opening chord anticipating the opening of Beethoven’s ‘Emperor’ Concerto!) is given on the largest of scales, a majestic account that includes a sublime view of the Adagio, properly slow and including the exposition repeat. How elegantly pointed is the minuet, how delicious the trio, and the finale is a joy of articulate detail: Colin Davis and the Concertgebouw truly relish Haydn’s wonderful invention!
The BBC Symphony Beethoven is, apparently, receiving its first-ever issue in any format. It’s a spacious, trenchant traversal that is thoughtfully dovetailed (the slow introduction into the first movement proper, for example). Some listeners may find Davis’s way with the music to be lethargic, but there’s a satisfying shape and cogency to the music-making; as for tempos, well, Davis’s expressive clarity is deeply appealing, and the tangible sound is superb.
As with all PentaTone releases, this a Hybrid CD/SACD release; on two channels it reproduces wonderfully well, and the re-mastering has been done with expert ears.


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