HAYDN: Symphony No. 101 – Scottish Ch. Orch./ Robin Ticciati – Linn 45rpm Supercut, vinyl, 25:70 (10/9/15) *****:
A gorgeous analog vinyl of a wonderful Haydn Symphony.
The Scottish Chamber Orchestras and principal conductor Robin Ticciati make their LP debut with a 45rpm Supercut, 180g vinyl pressing of one of Haydn’s great London Symphonies.
The performance overall is an evolution through reconciliation of the two key streams of Haydn interpretation since 1950. The conventional approach is represented by Fricsay with his RIAS Orchestra and Monteux with the LSO, and Klemperer in his most ponderous mode yet still illuminating mode Haydn’s central power and majesty. The historically accurate approach began with Max Goberman and his unfinished Haydn Society initiative, then developed in a bewilderingly wide variety of ways of which the newest recording of note is Mark Minkowski’s wildly imaginative performance for Naïve with Les Musiciens du Louvre.
Ticciati and his 40-member band bring together both worlds and to a very large extent succeed. The wonderfully soft timpani strokes at the beginning Adagio are a preview of the attention that is paid in every bar of this miraculous performance. In the following Presto – which at least approximates presto for a change – that means warmth (more even than the vinyl analogue delivery by itself would normally bestow), startling lower bass detail and a tremendously effective preparation of the coup de grâce at the end. In the second movement, which Ticciati takes at a very perky Andante, he may miss the opportunity to fool around in the repeats, but the big explosion sounds wonderful, especially with the volume turned way up; the instrumental detail in the recording is so precise and intense, and played so beautifully, that for once the reminiscence of Beethoven’s Op. 131 Quartet and then the flute fluttering like the bird in Peter and the Wolf, score full points. They also get the swagger at the end of the movement exactly right, and Usher Hall in Edinburgh sounds magnificent.
The third movement Menuet and Trio, again, is full of brilliant, wonderfully entertaining musical noises; yet, after an Urtext reading of the Trio fails to make a case for a little Haydn joke, Ticciati’s suddenly exposed square pace threatens to impede the Symphony’s full measure of excitement until the Orchestra opens the throttle full for the finale which starts with a broad swathe of gorgeous string sound and ends with an audiophile blast of trumpets and drums.
To fully enjoy this remarkable LP and its near-analogue quality sound, you will need the companion Linn CD which not only includes similarly-life enhancing audiophile recordings of two other D major Haydn symphonies – numbers 31, called “The Hornsignal” because of its use of four high-flying French horns, and 70 – but extensive, absorbing, provocative liner notes by Richard Taruskin, John Humphries and Martin Ennis (the LP includes only the latter).