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Boston Symphony Orchestra, 1958-1961
Haydn is a composer well matched to Munch's genial and rambunctious temperament, and this performance televised from the BSO's 'Cambridge series' in the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University is delightful. Munch uses a reduced orchestra that does not play with reduced energy; that wasn't his way. The gentle, tender rubato he brings to the slow movement, Haydn's memorial to Mozart, is ravishing, and the momentum and brio in the faster music feel jurst right. Most important of all, both conductor and orchestra know how to turn on a dime – and that is essential to the element of the unexpected that makes all of Haydn's symphonies, and not just No. 94. At points it looks as if Munch is letting the music bubble and course through him; he never struggles to keep it within its banks.