|Haydn Symphonies 53 + 54|
Conductor Thomas Fey's ongoing recordings of Haydn's symphonies with his historically oriented Heidelberg Symphony have been widely praised as exciting revisions of the ordinary ways of doing things in connection with Haydn. He uses period brasses (very well played indeed) and percussion with natural animal skins, and the strings, here modern ones, play with very little vibrato in the manner of Fey's teacher, Nikolaus Harnoncourt.
The strength of Fey's approach, as compared with Harnoncourt's in Classical-period repertory, is that he treats each work as an individual. His readings here are less surprising than his hell-for-leather versions of Haydn's minor-key Sturm und Drang symphonies, which have permanently retired the stereotype of the placid Papa Haydn; the mood and pacing here are normal. But listen closely and you'll hear equal originality here. Both the Symphony No. 53 in D major, Hob. 1/53 ("L'impériale"), and Symphony No. 54 in G major, Hob. 1/54, are brass-heavy in the outer movements, and are, in fact, almost dominated by the brasses.