Notes and Editorial Reviews
Originally recorded for Koch back in the 1990s, the Scherzandi and Baryton Octets were released previously on that label, along with three discs of divertimentos and two discs of opera overtures (which hopefully will return to the active catalog on BIS as well). The lyra concertos and notturni are seeing the light of day for the first time, if memory serves, though in the insane dumpfest that constitutes the classical recording industry they could well have shown up somewhere previously and I might have missed them. This is all superior music for royal entertainment--elegant, immaculately crafted, still amazingly fresh-sounding, and even emotionally affecting.
Perhaps the most
remarkable (and unusual) pieces here are the scherzandi: six genuine symphonies in miniature, four movements each, for strings, flute, oboes, and horns, lasting from about six to nine minutes. Clearly designed to be played as a cycle, they deserve to return to the repertoire of enterprising chamber orchestras. The rest of the works fall into the category of "custom-made music for aristocratic performers on weird instruments". The Baryton Octets are the largest and most sophisticated works that Haydn wrote for that strange relative of the gamba family, while the lyra pieces are late works, so full of attractive music that Haydn either turned them into works for "normal" instruments (as played here), or reused some of their movements in contemporaneous symphonies (including the eponymous movement in the "Military" Symphony).
These performances, on "authentic" instruments, are uniformly fine, with particularly skillful horn playing and generally pleasant string tone. Manfred Huss chooses lively (but never rushed) tempos and ensures that ensemble balances remain true. The lyra works are already reasonably well known, but if you haven't heard the Scherzandi or the baryton pieces, then you really ought to get this set. Happily, BIS has priced it at six discs for the price of three, making for a most welcome bargain.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Featured Sound Samples
Scherzando no 4: I. Allegro
Concerto for 2 Lire organizzate, H 7h no 2: I. Vivace assai
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