Where to start? Faced with four generously filled CDs (each one breaks through eighty minutes) I went first with Mozart’s Fortieth Symphony (K550) from Minneapolis 1952, lithe and alive in the outer movements, spacious in the Andante.
Everything else here is in stereo … Antal Dorati (1906-88) remade K550 with the LSO in 1961, coupling it with a superb Schumann 4 (the latter available as part of the other Eloquence Dorati release I recently commented on). This later K550 is to be preferred – greater consideration and searching is evident, as is a more moderate tempo for the first movement: seventy seconds longer (same repeat scheme, with). Also included is an imposing LSO account of the ‘Linz’ Symphony (No.36; K425). Mozart makeweights include Overtures, Dances, Marches, and the Serenade known as ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’.
There are seven Haydn Symphonies here – 45 ‘Farewell’; 59 ‘Fire’; 81; 94 ‘Surprise’; 100 ‘Military’; 101 ‘Clock’; and 103 ‘Drum Roll’ – shared between the “Festival Chamber Orchestra” as reported on the LP covers (in fact the Bath Festival Orchestra), LSO and Philharmonia Hungarica; Dorati would record all of Haydn’s Symphonies with this latter band for Decca.
All these wonderful Haydn examples enjoy Dorati’s perspicacious championing, each ensemble on top form. The conductor, while relishing song-and-dance elements, is not afraid to expose emotional nerves, exploit dynamic contrasts and invest intensity in the most illuminating way, whether a movement is fast or slow. There’s a tangible pioneering spirit present that is undimmed across the decades.
As for the Eloquence Dorati/Mendelssohn & Schumann release, the present booklet includes a full note from Antony Hodgson; reproductions of LP covers; dates, venues and control-room personnel; “special thanks” to Peter Bromley; and a special word from me for engineer Chris Bernauer for his spot-on remastering.
Much rewarding listening on Eloquence 484 0385 (4 CDs).