Haydn: Symphonies 53, 64 & 96 - Kalmar

Haydn: Symphonies 53, 64 & 96 - Kalmar

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186 612

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral

Haydn: Symphonies 53, 64 & 96

The Oregon Symphony
Carlos Kalmar (conductor)

Whether it’s a confident swagger or a balletic grace, a beguiling folk-melody or a quicksilver rondo, there is always something new to discover in the endlessly inventive symphonies of Haydn, especially in these firm favourites played by the Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar in this new release.

While Haydn wrote only one “Surprise” symphony, there are surprises to be enjoyed aplenty here. From the bewildering Largo in Symphony No. 64 with its unexpected turns and derailments, to the ceremonial elegance and ear-tickling melodies of Symphony No. 53 or the mock-heroics and propulsive rhythms of Symphony No. 96, Haydn’s irrepressible and dazzling ingenuity constantly delights and astonishes. “There is no one who can do it all,” wrote Mozart, “to joke and to terrify, to evoke laughter and profound sentiment – and all equally well, except Joseph Haydn.”

This is Carlos Kalmar’s fourth album for PENTATONE with the Oregon Symphony. Their album Music for a Time of War, earned two Grammy nominations (Best Orchestral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical) and was widely praised by music critics.

Gramophone said of their album This England “Kalmar’s Oregon performance certainly pulls no punches … a total success, gripping in mood and hot on specific instrumental detail,” adding, “sound-wise, you couldn’t ask for more; nor could anyone expect finer recording from PENTATONE.” And in 2016, their critically acclaimed album of 20th century American orchestral works The Spirit of the American Range earned a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance.

Carlos Kalmar, a Uruguayan national, is in his fourteenth season as Music Director of the Oregon Symphony. He is also the artistic director and principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago. His Carnegie Hall debut in May 2011 with the Oregon Symphony, was noted by New York critic Alex Ross as “one of the most gripping events of the current season”.

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DSD recording
Comments (12)

Comment by hiredfox - March 5, 2017 (1 of 12)

Recorded by Sound Mirror? Hope so.

Comment by William Hecht - March 5, 2017 (2 of 12)

Yes it is, John, confirmed by visiting the Soundmirror site.This went on my "wishlist" immediately. The paucity of Haydn on sacd is appalling.

Comment by hiredfox - March 11, 2017 (3 of 12)

Thanks Bill, surely this is a first SACD recording of No 53 so will be a welcome addition for collectors. The Ars Produktion set of the London Symphonies including No 96 are outstanding and we are lucky to have them on SACD.

Comment by Stephen Wright - March 12, 2017 (4 of 12)

Oregon Symphony plays 18th Century music without vibrato and usually with reduced string forces, so I have low expectations for this disc. Symphony 53 is one of Haydn's grandest early symphonies, but I anticipate little grandeur -- in everything, Maestro Kalmar pursues chamber-like clarity uber alles. I will definitely get this, but I hope OSO-Pentatone stick with the 21st, 20th, and late 19th Century in the future.

Comment by William Hecht - March 13, 2017 (5 of 12)

Glad to hear it! Though I'm very happy to get more Haydn on sacd the one reservation I had about this was the prospect of large modern orchestra performances for the two earlier symphonies.

Comment by hiredfox - March 14, 2017 (6 of 12)

I had never thought of L'Impériale as '18th Century music" Stephen although you are quite correct in the chronological sense. Personally I would not have differentiated it from his later symphonies in quite this way as it has similar structure and scoring. This is an example of where strict adherence to convenient labels can get in the way of common sense.

Normally we distinguish by periods in musical development, the Baroque period ended around 1750 by convention and the Classical period followed unto around 1830 -ish. L'Impériale was composed in 1777 (+/-) which falls well within the classical period; indeed Haydn is the father of the classical symphonic form which we still enjoy today.

As to the credentials of the Oregon Symphony and Carlos Kalmar as Haydn interpreters, I know not. We live in an age where the unexpected is becoming the 'norm'.

Comment by hiredfox - March 24, 2017 (7 of 12)

Not sure where to post this but I'll try here and hope word gets around. Recently one colleague William I believe suggested that Linn might hav e abandoned SACD and here is their official position. It seems we are not loud enough or that we fight hard enough, believing in goodwill of record producers evidently is not enough...

"Hello John,

Thank you for your email.

You are mostly correct in your assessment. During 2016 we trialled the release of recordings on CD rather than SACD because we have seen a large shift to digital music consumption in recent years. The uptake was generally the same leading us to the conclusion that the Super Audio layer is not of paramount importance for the majority of our CD customers nowadays.

Linn remains utterly committed to providing music in higher than CD quality but our focus has shifted more towards digital formats rather than physical formats. Our Studio Master downloads, a format we brought to the market in 2007, perfectly demonstrate this commitment. We realize part of the appeal for many of our SACD customers was the surround sound aspect and we are working towards providing a digital equivalent to this.

In my music-buying lifetime there have already been a wealth of formats which have fallen in and out of favour (I have one friend who still bemoans the demise of the MiniDisc) and we are constantly revisiting our options. For example in recent years we returned to the LP format which had taken a back seat to the CD before its resurgence.

Having said that we have not entirely put aside the SACD format. We still record in surround sound and we still release an annual SACD sampler in the summer, but we do move with the times as you would expect and I would foresee the focus remaining on expanding our digital formats.

We were obviously very eager to see what the response would be last year and we did have a small number or customers with enquiries like yours, but overall we had very little feedback from customers to suggest that the SACD format would be sorely missed. I’m sorry that you are among the number who will be disappointed with our current policy. If you would be interested to try a Studio Master download please let me know.

Best wishes,
Linn Records Team"

Comment by William Hecht - March 24, 2017 (8 of 12)

Hi John,

Thanks for undertaking the inquiry. I suspect you're right, we're just not noisy enough. While it's no doubt true that we sacd loyalists are a smallish bunch, I can't imagine that the clamor for Linn to begin LP production was overwhelming either, at least in terms of numbers. Nonetheless the hi end street cred of the LP was apparently sufficient to carry the day, while not a single one of my music loving friends even knows what sacd stands for. It's also the case that since Linn made no announcement concerning abandonment of the sacd format it was some months before I realized what had happened and I imagine most of us still aren't aware enough to lodge a protest. There is one part of Cathy's response that I find amusing: the bit about the annual sampler on sacd, as if that's going to cause me to lash out for a music server and ancillaries. As my grandkids might say: "gimme a break".


Comment by john hunter - April 1, 2017 (9 of 12)

Quite right guys, we are all too quiet. I wonder what research Lin did if any. Certainly readers of this site should contact them. Linn will certainly hear from me later today.

Comment by hiredfox - May 5, 2017 (10 of 12)

I think the answer to that John is none at all. The last thing an organisation needs when they set a new policy is for their market research people to turn round and tell them they've got it wrong!!!

Comment by hiredfox - May 5, 2017 (11 of 12)

Mr Kalmar produces bright, energetic and studied performances of these less familiar symphonies where perhaps light, airy and frivolous might have been more in line with our expectations of this composer. Maybe a little unfair to say heavy handed but lighter forces might have shed more insight? Great recording 'though and flawless playing so well worth buying if only for L'Impériale making its debut on SACD.

Isn't is wonderful that Pentatone work in collaboration with Sound Mirror for these US recordings, it's happening more and more and if the best on either side of the Pond can pool their experience and resources like this what's not to like. State-of-the-Art 256fs DSD recording on SACD, yummy!

Comment by Stephen Wright - November 22, 2017 (12 of 12)

Soulless. Definitely the worst of OSO's collaboration with Pentatone. There is some sort of ambient hum in Symphony 64. No interpretive insights. Avoid.