Ottavio Dantone’s harpsichord in particular sounds as though it is gamely holding back the full force of the orchestra until it has whispered its way to a suitable break. Violinist Stefano Montanari seems to be better able to handle the contrast, though at the expense of sounding a bit tetchy in case the orchestra catches it unawares.
The work of this respected Italian ensemble, then, comes both fluid and sensitive, and loud and forceful. They do both very well, but the two forms do not mix that happily on the one CD
unless you can find a tolerable half-way setting. It is an unusual factor to take into account when assessing a recording, when levels and contrasts are usually so balanced as to not be noticeable. Especially with a composer like Haydn, whose skill as a smooth colourist is almost magical.
Perhaps authenticity is best kept in shape with a touch of rough handling now and then. Whatever, some adjustment may be needed to get the most out of this performance, but an hour of Haydn is always an hour’s treat.