The copy we are selling is similar to the one pictured above.
Side One: Mint Minus Minus (often quieter than this grade)
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus*
- This vintage Mercury Living Presence LP brings outstanding recording energy and presence to Haydn's music with superb Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from first note to last
- It's also fairly quiet at Mint Minus Minus, a grade that even our most well-cared-for vintage classical titles have trouble playing at
- This recording is not your typical dry, bright, nasaly, upper-midrangy Merc - the sound is rich and smooth like a good London, with a big stage and lovely transparency
- Dorati pushes the Festival Chamber Orchestra to dizzying heights of performance - if you find Haydn boring, try this record, it's got the pacing and dynamic contrasts that bring the Master of the Symphony's music back to life
- Marks in the vinyl are sometimes the nature of the beast with these early pressings - there simply is no way around them if the superior sound of vintage analog is important to you
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*NOTE: There is a mark that plays 12 times lightly during the last 1/4 of the second movement on side 2.
Vintage covers for this album are hard to find in exceptionally clean shape. Most of the will have at least some amount of ringwear, seam wear and edge wear. We guarantee that the cover we supply with this Hot Stamper is at least VG
These are THE BEST HAYDN SYMPHONIES I have ever heard on disc. Folks, until I heard Dorati and the Festival Chamber Orchestra perform these pieces I never knew there could be this much FIRE in Haydn’s music. (Please excuse the pun; the 59th Symphony is entitled “Fire”.)
Mercury brings the kind of recording energy and presence to this music that I have frankly never heard before. Credit must go to both Dorati and his players.
His tempi are fast and sprightly throughout, and the smaller orchestra allows the players to zig and zag with the musical changes much more quickly than would be the case with a larger and more inertia-bound group.
The FCO are so technically proficient and so light on their feet that Dorati was able to push them to dizzying heights of performance. For the first time I can honestly say that Haydn’s music really works -- it’s wonderful!
(If you’ve ever heard Previn conducting Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony with the L.A. Phil from 1990 you will know what I mean. In his (their) hands the work is so lively it’s hard to hear it performed by anyone else. Bad digital sound but it’s worth it to hear the piece played with such gusto.)
This vintage Mercury Living Presence pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn't showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to "see" the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It's what vintage all analog recordings are known for -- this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it -- not often, and certainly not always -- but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What The Best Sides Of Symphonies 59 & 81 Have To Offer Is Not Hard To Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1965
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Copies with rich lower mids and nice extension up top did the best in our shootout, assuming they weren't veiled or smeary of course. So many things can go wrong on a record! We know, we've heard them all.
Top end extension is critical to the sound of the best copies. Lots of old records (and new ones) have no real top end; consequently, the studio or stage will be missing much of its natural air and space, and instruments will lack their full complement of harmonic information.
Tube smear is common to most vintage pressings. The copies that tend to do the best in a shootout will have the least (or none), yet are full-bodied, tubey and rich.
Dorati and Haydn
As you may know, Dorati recorded all the symphonies of Haydn for London/Decca. Having played some of them I can tell you they certainly do not sound like this! (Perhaps my copies were not the best, but how many copies of these records can be found nowadays? Not enough to do shootouts with, that’s for sure.)
This recording is not your typical dry, bright, nasaly, upper-midrangy Merc, on side one especially. Here the sound is rich and smooth like a good London, with a big stage and lovely transparency. In virtually every other way it was SUPERB!
What We're Listening For On Symphonies 59 & 81
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Powerful bass -- which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of other pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
- Symphony No. 59 In A ("Fire")
- Allegro assai
- Symphony No. 81 In G
- Menuetto: Allegretto
- Finale: Allegro ma no troppo
Wikipedia for Symphony No. 59
The Symphony No. 59 in A major is a relatively early work by Joseph Haydn that is known popularly as the Fire Symphony. Composed under the auspices of Nikolaus Esterházy, it was written in the middle or late 1760s.The symphony has long been popularly known as the Feuer or Fire symphony. As with most other monikers attached to Haydn's symphonies, the name itself did not originate with the composer. For a long time, the attributed title was thought to refer to the fiery nature of the composition, particularly the rather unusually spirited first movement (marked Presto, a tempo indication more typical of final movements) and the brief but energetic last movement, which features prominent horn fanfares and corruscating runs on the strings. However, there is nothing particularly distinguishing about any of the movements that would make it more impassioned than other symphonic compositions by Haydn during this period.
Instead, the nickname almost certainly derives from the use of several movements as accompanying music to a performance of the play Die Feuersbrunst by Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann, which was performed at Eszterháza in either (depending on the source) 1774 or 1778. An extant manuscript of the symphony dating from Haydn's lifetime bears the title Feueur Sinfonia. Earlier claims that the symphony originated first as theatrical music (like the Symphony No. 60 Il Distratto) are inaccurate.
The work is in standard four movement form and scored for two oboes, two horns, continuo (bassoon, harpsichord) and strings.
- Presto, 4/4
- Andante o più tosto Allegretto, 3/4
- Menuet e Trio, 3/4
- Finale: Allegro
The opening movement starts off energetically on an upbeat followed by octave drop. Following the initial outburst, the music dramatically relaxes and comes to a full stop. This was a technique he used to an even greater effect in his 48th symphony from about the same time period. The relaxation also appears at the end of the movement giving the listener the quiet curtain raising music that often occurs at the end of an opera overture.
In the slow movement, the winds are silent for most of the movement—leaving the listener to expect that the movement is scored for strings alone. These expectations are quelled when full orchestration enters for the second theme in the recapitulation.
Haydn rarely used the same meter for consecutive movements as he did with the inner two movements in this work. There are melodic links between these movements as well as both start with the same sequence of pitches. The second theme of the slow movement is also alluded to.
The finale begins with a horn call followed by a response in the oboes and at the end of the exposition it is the strings and oboe that have a dialogue. Haydn uses a similar horn call to start the finale of his 103rd symphony over twenty-five years later. Following a brief development, the return of the horn call is only hinted at in the strings in the start of the recapitulation which then follows in a relatively straightforward manner. The horn call in its proper instrumentation is saved for the movement coda.
Wikipedia for Symphony No. 81
It is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns and strings.
- Andante, 6/8
- Menuetto and trio: Allegretto, 3/4
- Finale: Allegro ma non troppo, 2/2
In the first and third movements, Haydn explores “ambiguities of tonality … which eventually reach their peak of subtlety” of the first movement of Symphony No. 94. The first movement begins “with an unusual and exciting pedal point … [and] uses a subsidiary subject that appears like a cordial greeting to the newly won friend [Mozart].” The pedals and dissonances point to Mozart’s K. 465.
The second movement is a siciliano theme with three variations. The variations are for the most part strophic and straightforward with the exception of a minor-key interlude in the center of the movement between the first and second variations. The final variation contains the fullest orchestration with pizzicato accompaniment and serves to recapitulate the movement.