CDs / DVDs

Gramophone (GB), 01. Dezember 1989
With nearly two dozen Prague Symphonies available on CD and over 30 G- minors this latest arrival is up against stiff opposition; but the Netherlands Philharmonic under its Dresden-born conductor Hartmut Haenchen (who is also music director of Netherlands Opera and was recently in London with the Komische Oper from Berlin) acquits itself well and has produced attractive and stylish performances. The fact that modern instruments at modern pitch are used need cause no concern—Mackerras's splendidly vital readings with the Prague Chamber Orchestra on Telarc were of the same kind, and are flawed only by the excessive resonance of the recording venue. The acoustics in the Mennonite church in Haarlem, where the recordings were made, are warm but clean, and in the Prague Symphony the strings sing sympathetically in the Andante (in which Haenchen, unlike Marriner on EM!, makes no repeat) but the violins become just a little strident in the fortes of the first movement.
Haenchen takes the Adagio introduction to the Prague very slowly; and throughout the G minor his speeds are slower than those in Marriner's later EMI version (which was outstanding for its dramatic thrust and bite). His Andante feels a shade too deliberate (especially just after the double-bar, where more forward impetus seems needed); his Minuet is sturdy; and his finale is certainly tautly and firmly shaped. The booklet note, instead of indulging in flatulent phrase-making, should have informed readers who may not be sure what is meant by the brief tag "original version" to the G minor Symphony that this is the early version of the score before Mozart added clarinets, modifying the oboe parts in so doing. L.S.