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Dip Your Ears, No. 64 (Fricsay’s Haydn)

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J.Haydn, Symphonies
Nos. 44, 95, 98
Ferenc Fricsay / RIAS SO Berlin
DG 474981

Perhaps the coupling of Haydn’s 44th, 95th, and 98th symphonies strikes you as slightly random – a little Sturm & Drang (no. 44, the Trauersymphonie - “Mourning-Symphony”), a little London (nos. 95, 98). Perhaps a 1954 mono recording doesn’t obviously kindle your interest or tickle your fancy? And maybe you have not thought much of the short-lived (1914-1963) Ferenc Fricsay – apart perhaps from enjoying a wonderful Beethoven or Dvořák 9th or his Don Giovanni. Well, here it is then, to point out that this budget disc from Deutsche Grammophon’s Europe-centric “Musik…… Sprache der Welt” collection is an absolute gem and that (at least for those who do not have a Haydn #44 in their collection) there is no reason not to indulge in this recording. The sound quality belies its age (better still than the remastered 58/60 Beecham EMI recordings), the playing of the RIAS Symphony Orchestra Berlin under Fricsay is positively infectious. And “mourning” as may be its title, it is actually an unadulterated joy to listen to; the kind of Angst- and tension-free music that allows you to smile, apprehending only skilled, honest beauty and goodness. It’s music with little wings. And a delighting 70 minutes of it.

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