REVIEW: Haydn City Life

Posted on June 9, 2009

Robert Beale in Citylife reviews Manchster Camerata’s Haydn collaboration with the BBC Phil

Douglas Boyd   OFFERED the prospect of hearing 11 Haydn symphonies one after the other, as a way of celebrating the great man’s death 200 years ago, the concertgoers of Manchester have, it seems, gone somewhere else. Many of them, anyway.

So the idea of a collaborative festival by Manchester Camerata and the BBC Philharmonic, which looked so neat on paper, has not caught fire in ticket sales.

A pity, because the Philharmonic’s part of it has been really stimulating – and I expect the final two programmes this week, with choral and dramatic music and then The Creation, will bring more bodies in.

Douglas Boyd, conducting the Camerata in the first concert, was committed to the concept, too. He gave us three examples, from the early, middle and late periods of the composer’s oeuvre, each possessing a nickname (usually a good sign with a Haydn symphony). 

The sixth symphony – ‘Le Matin’ – opened with a slightly hazy sunrise but improved much as the birds (the woodwind) began to sing, and allowed several Camerata principals to show off their solo abilities, concluding with all-round fun in its finale.

But the players’ enthusiasm seemed to flag after that (it was a hot evening), and after the inconsequentialities of no. 60 (‘Il Distratto’, based on music for a stage show), no. 103 (‘Drum Roll’) had a leaden tread in several places, not least its minuet.

Read the review in CityLife