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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
Concertos for two Lire Organizzate (arr. 2 recorders, 2 flutes, flute/oboe) (1786/1787)
Concerto in C, Hob VIIh:1 [14:54]
Concerto in G, Hob VIIh:2 (1786/1787) [14:28]
Concerto in G, Hob VIIh:3 (1786/1787) [15:46]
Concerto in F, Hob VIIh:4 (1786/1787) [15:39]
Concerto in F, Hob VIIh:5 (1786/1787) [12:44] Daniel Rothert and Philipp Spätling (recorders); Benoît Fromanger and Ingo Nelken (flutes); Christian Hommel (oboe) Cologne Chamber Orchestra/Helmut Müller–Brühl rec. 23–26 October 2007, Studio Stolberger Straße, Köln, Germany. DDD
NAXOS 8.570481 [73:31] 


Experience Classicsonline

The Lira, the favourite instrument of King Ferdinand IV of
Naples, was a cross between a hurdy-gurdy and a chamber organ. This instrument is now obsolete so in order for us to hear these charming pieces Naxos gives us Haydn’s complete works for Lira in arrangements for 2 recorders (nos.1 and 5), flute and oboe (nos.2 and 4), two flutes (no.3). It has sensibly avoided our hearing the same sonority in two consecutive works; this would, I am sure, have led to boredom brought about by too much of the same thing. 

Each of these five works are in three movements – fast/slow/fast – and each is light and frothy. Oddly, even though these works weren’t written for the solo instruments employed here the writing, especially that taken by the oboe, is pure Haydn. It couldn’t have been written by anyone else. 

The works happily follow one another without any special event crossing the musical horizon. Perhaps one shouldn’t listen to the whole disk in one sitting. But then you get the shock of your life with the slow movement of the 3rd Concerto. To all intents and purposes it’s the slow movement of the 100th Symphony, but without the percussion! It’s quite delightful too and is followed by a more serious finale than those of its predecessors. After this the 4th Concerto seemed much more sober. On the other hand the abiding impression is works that are really good humoured, and good natured works. So I played it again the next day and discovered that it was the seriousness of the slow movement of No.3 which had coloured my feelings. The last two concertos are as delightful, and spontaneously enjoyable, as the rest. 

I first met the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, and its conductor, Helmut Müller–Brühl, when reviewing the Naxos complete Haydn Symphonies set. He directs sprightly and easy-going accounts of these works, but, as in the Symphonies, he occasionally insists on making huge rallentandi at cadence points, and not necessarily at the conclusion of the fast movements. 

The five soloists give very enjoyable, and musical, performances of these pieces and one would love to hear them all in more substantial works for their instruments. Despite my small niggle about the rallentandi, and the fact that although the recording is crisp and clear, it does leave the violins sometimes sounding a bit wiry above the stave, this is a disk worth having. It fills in another gap in our knowledge of this always interesting composer.

Bob Briggs

see also Review by Brian Wilson


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