CDs / DVDs

Gramophone (GB), 01. Mai 1994
All three works receive carefully prepared performances, neatly executed by the C.P.E. Bach Chamber Orchestra. Modern instruments are used, though string vibrato is applied quite sparingly, while the hard, dry sound of the timpani in No. 53 suggests the use of authentic wooden sticks. Textures throughout are lucid (abetted by the clean, pleasing recording), and the harpsichord continuo in the two earlier symphonies is well balanced, imaginative, occasionally (in slow movements) a touch over-fanciful. Haenchen generally judges tempos well, and there are attractive things in his interpretations: the light, easy gait of the variation movements in Nos. 53 and 85, for instance, their minore sections done with just the right touch of sentiment; and the gentle, rather introspective reading of the curious capriccio finale of No. 53, a valid alternative to Harnoncourt's drive, and no doubt a more faithful realization of Haydn's moderato tempo indication.