Bernarda Fink, Freiburger Barockorchester, René Jacobs, Haydn: Symphonies No. 91 & 92 “Oxford” / Scena di Berenice

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
René Jacobs does it again.

Jacobs and Haydn: they just go so well together. Here, we have two delightful symphonies bookending the sublime Bernarda Fink in the dramatic and powerful Scena di Berenice. She is as magnetic in the recitatives as in the arias and you really feel for her predicament as she masters the anguish in her voice. As to the symphonies, No. 92, the "Oxford," was played as a thank-you for an honorary doctorate bestowed on the composer by Oxford University. Such is the joy and thrill of Jacobs's direction that you might be forgiven for thinking this was recorded live — a real sense of occasion floods from the speakers. The very fast Presto finale of No. 92 is quite simply jaw-dropping: only a band of the Freiburgers'skill could keep up with this helter-skelter tempo. And No. 91 is delightful too, Jacobs relishing the stark contrasts in the second-movement Andante, but also allowing the warmth to radiate.