This is an unusual CD of music by Haydn (1723-1809) which is rarely heard. Writing music up to his death at the age of 77, Haydn’s output was very large, with 104 catalogued symphonies, about 80 string quartets, 125 trios with baryton and very many more compositions of all kinds. These two discs feature 8 Notturni and 6 Scherzandi , each lasting about 10 or 15 minutes, and written for up to ten instruments. They can be thought of as shortish symphonies: indeed, in the Entwurfkatalog of his own works, Haydn lists the Scherzandi , which he wrote in his forties, under the section containing symphonies.
He wrote the Notturni over twenty years later; they began life as a commission for King Ferdinand IV of Naples , each featuring a pair of what was the king’s favourite instrument, the lira organizzata , which combined elements of the hurdy-gurdy and the positive organ. Haydn revised these works for Salomon’s Hanover Square concerts in the 1791-2 London concert season. For these performances, Haydn rearranged the two lira parts for flute and oboe and strengthened the continuo group with a double bass.
The production of this CD is the result of an interesting collaboration between the Haydn Society of Great Britain and two separate ensembles, which could well offer a valuable model for future recordings of music by other composers. In the first CD, Denis McCaldin, Director of the Haydn Society, conducts the Jessop Ensemble in a project based at Sheffield University Music Department in 2012, designed to offer young prospective professional musicians the opportunity to develop their skills in aspects of 18 th -century performance practice, through recording and performance.
In the second CD, Denis McCaldin conducts the Trinity Haydn Ensemble, which was created in 2009 as part of a Haydn bicentennial collaborative project shared between members of Trinity College of Music, London , and the Haydn Society of Great Britain. Both groups of young performers give enjoyable renderings of these works, with their elegant slow movements, delicate minuets and lively allegros; the tone of the Trinity Haydn Ensemble is particularly crisp. Congratulations to Divine Art Recordings for bringing another page of musical history to life.