This live recording of a group of Haydn's late masterworks lies at the intersection of several tales of trouble -- that of Simon Rattle's conductorship of the venerable Berlin Philharmonic, that of the EMI label's flagging fortunes and those of the classical recording industry in general, and that of the attempts of the massive symphony orchestras rooted in the nineteenth century to remain relevant in music written by composers who for the most part had no inkling of their existence. The results are, well, troubled. Rattle tries to borrow a page from the authentic-performance book, using a small group of strings with little vibrato and striving for transparent textures that reveal Haydn's wind and horn parts. The trouble is that he seems stuck in a 1970s conception of historical performance, apparently believing that it means interpretations that are restrained to the point of being pinched, yet at the same time outrageously unorthodox. A few hours of listening to the Haydn recordings of Thomas Fey and the Ensemble La Passione would have set him straight on the issue of restraint, but what you get here are recordings that, as flawlessly as the Berliners may play, are pretty lifeless. Hear the mushy, directionless slow introduction to the first movement of the Symphony No. 91 (CD 2, track 1), for example. Rattle's tinkering with the score (he has an odd way of making phrases back off dynamically in mid-utterance, robbing Haydn of his robust good cheer) largely fails to convince. His tempos are fast to the point of breakneck, destroying the minuets' fun-at-the-expense-of-the-courtiers mood and turning the great false endings of the Symphony No. 90 in C major into nervous, slightly unpleasant moments. That finale appears on disc 1 in two separate versions, one with the audience breaking mistakenly into applause (and then laughter) at the false ending, the other with the applause edited out (the timing of this one is way off in the track list, incidentally). This doesn't really come off, for on all the rest of the recordings audience sound of all kinds is ruthlessly edited out -- the applause, when it does happen, sounds like a horror film effect, and the eerie sonic backdrop sounds as though someone couldn't decide whether the recording was live or studio. There are good moments here -- the sly opening movement of the Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, where Rattle's restraint becomes a virtue, and the detailed thinking-out of some of the development sections -- but the set as a whole is too clever by half.