Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic
Haydn: Symphonies 88–92, Sinfonia Concertante
(EMI Classics)


In 2002, Sir Simon Rattle took the reins of the Berlin Philharmonic and promised to modernize the orchestra’s music selection, said Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times. Reinventing the past with accuracy and unmistakable audacity, the British conductor “keeps his word” with this disc of Joseph Haydn symphonies. Rattle considers Haydn our greatest neglected composer, and even his boldest decisions demonstrate a true appreciation and understanding of classic form. Rattle seems “alert to every surprising harmonic and thematic stroke.” He has scaled down the orchestra for this double disc, and the result “conveys the ingenious architectonic structure of these scores without making them sound imposing.” Rattle’s rapport with the players allows for his influence to shine through on this spirited record. The orchestra produces “crisp and lively playing, even humor, in repertoire it once approached with stolid reverence,” said Kenneth Walton in the Edinburgh Scotsman. Haydn’s sense of humor has led some to call him the funnier Mozart. The symphonies here embody the wit and whimsy the composer carried into his music. “You get the sense that Rattle knows there are jokes in the music,” said Richard Nilsen in The Arizona Republic. He occasionally loses track of timing, however, so that the “punch lines nibble where they should bite.”