Sorry for the delay, was working on deadline for another project. The Bernstein performances have been widely praised, held up as models, etc., but I can't board that train. The string playing is sloppy, intonation questionable at times, especially in the "Paris" cycle. Now please don't ask me for specifics because I gave my sets away years ago. Unable to make the connection many others have made with the late Haydn symphonies conducted by Bernstein, I jotted down a few notes and was glad to have the empty shelf space open up. Sections in the outer movements were on occasion especially egregious for poor ensemble.
My favorite Bernstein/Haydn performance is on YouTube (don't have the link but it's easy to find) where Bernstein uses only his facial gestures to conduct the VPO in the final movement of no. 88 in G major. It's a "look Ma no hands" moment of priceless peacock-ary, and of course the orchestra can play the piece superbly even with blindfolds on. Bernstein was truly a great man and he would have been the first to tell you so. I apologize in advance to his many fans for being a little harsh here, and on checking see that I still have his DG performances of 88 and 92.
On May 6, 2014, at 5:33 PM, Carl Pultz <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Alex, I'm curious how you feel about Bernstein's Haydn performances.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
> [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Alex McGehee
> Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 9:45 AM
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> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Mitrop[olous was Dora Labbette, Soprano with string
> Hi guys,
> The Haydn literature is replete with spurious timpani parts and over the
> years they've gained a large group of devotees, never mind that Haydn never
> wrote them and had the resources available to do so. Maybe Haydn played the
> drums and that would cool off this simmering musical brew of yes-he-did,
> no-he-didn't continuo crowd led by James Webster of Cornell.
> The German authorities (who must be obeyed): at the Joseph Haydn Institute
> in Köln, responsible for the complete edition of Haydn's work that got
> underway in the late 1950's. Why it's taken so long I can't go into detail
> here, but it's almost done, give or take another seven years. A scholar
> there has laid down a serious argument for several symphonies that don't
> really have high alt horns. I kind of like the symphonies that way and so
> did H. C. Robbins Landon (he had a passion about them).
> The credo (within reason) must alway aim at the composer's original
> intentions which do include later revisions and authorized arrangements
> (like the flute and string instruments Johann Peter Solomon wrote out from
> Haydn's symphony scores). I enjoy the playing of the BPO with Karajan at
> times, but it's not Haydn. (And Landon thought it the gold standard)The wind
> and string parts are all out of balance and the timpani part (so important
> to Haydn when he actually wrote one) has trouble getting through. I'm not a
> cat gut wing-nut, just someone who likes these works served up with true
> balance and not overly controlled with spot mics. And don't get me started
> on Harnoncourt. Yikes!
> Alex McGehee