American Record Guide

These little-known works are arrangements of pieces Haydn originally composed for an instrument called the lira organizata, sort of a tabletop hurdy-gurdy, with orchestra. I found some online examples, and it’s a colorful little instrument, but these versions, with the solo part arranged for winds, are better.

According to the notes, the Trinity Haydn Ensemble is students of Trinity College of Music, and the Jessop Haydn Ensemble was formed to offer “young prospective professional musicians the opportunity to develop their skills in aspects of 18th Century performance practice through recording and performance”.

While this is not a perfect performance, I applaud their efforts. First, it’s a double CD. That’s a big project, even for professionals. Second, rather than record something that’s been done to death, like the Surprise Symphony, they’ve chosen some seldom-recorded works that may be of some historical interest. If not for this recording, I don’t think I’d have ever heard these charming pieces. What these young players may lack in experience, they make up for in enthusiasm, and the soloists get quite a workout.

The very detailed notes probably include everything there is to know about these works.

—Greg Pagel