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Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Complete Early Divertimenti [approx. 5:45]
Simon Standage (violin)
Haydn Sinfonietta Wien (period instruments)/Manfred Huss
rec. 1993-96, Casino Zögernitz, Vienna, Austria; May 2005, Festaal des Finanzamtes, bad Radkersburg, Austria; August 2008, Schlosskapelle of Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt, Austria; June 2009, Church of the Three Kings, Benedikt, Slovenia. DDD
BIS CD 1806-08 [5 CDs: c. 5:45:00]

Experience Classicsonline

This set is a companion to Bis's other early Haydn sets from these forces: Scherzandi, Baryton Octets and Lira Concerti (BISCD1796/98, 6 CDs) and the complete overtures (BISCD1818, 2 CDs).

Haydn's early divertimenti, to quote the liner-notes to this set, "are almost unknown, and their quality and importance are underestimated." These early instrumental works for small groups of musicians - for the most part various groups of five to nine wind and string players - were composed from 1753 to 1763. This set contains re-editions of a number of discs that were originally released on Koch-Schwann, together with some 70 minutes of new material. The new releases are essentially "Feldparthien", or divertimenti played by wind instruments only.

This is clearly "early" Haydn. While the tone and melodies are vintage Haydn, the forms themselves look back to the baroque. Designed to be performed outdoors - hence the use of wind instruments which carry well in open spaces - these were composed to be played with one instrument per part. One can just picture these works being played by musicians with powdered wigs in a gazebo outside the Esterházy castle.

The names of the works vary. Some are called "Divertimento" others "Feldparthie" or "Cassatio", and for Haydn's early works, these names seem interchangeable. From 1765 onwards, however, at the request of Prince Esterházy, Haydn began to use the names we now know. For example, the early string quartets are also called "divertimenti", though this changed in the 1770s with his Op. 20 quartets.

There are nearly six hours of music in this box, and any Haydn fan should be delighted to discover more music by the master. Or should they? Going through this set, expecting to find the usual truculent and enjoyable Haydn, I was disappointed that many of the works are ponderous and, well, soporific. Have you ever heard Haydn's baritone trios? These are rarely recorded works, but Brilliant Classics' 150-CD Haydn box set, released in 2008 contains 20 CDs of those works. Written for Prince Esterházy, the baryton trios are simple, attractive music, but little more. Listening to a disc or two is enjoyable, but this is light music with little substance. Listening to many of the earliest works in this set, I have the same feeling. The music is pleasant - and certainly well played and well recorded - but there's not much meat, and there's little temptation to want to return to them.

The works are presented here in more or less chronological order - more or less, because precise dates are not known. By disc 3, with the Divertimento in D major, Hob.II:8, the music starts getting more interesting. This is closer to a Haydn symphony - not in forces, but in tone - though the slow tempo makes it sound a bit sluggish. The 'Divertimento a Sei Stromenti' in E flat major, Hob.II:21, on disc 4, is, on the other hand, a delightful work. Much in the style of Haydn's early string quartets, this is for two violins, viola, bass and two horns and has the sound of the Haydn I know and love. Gone are the simple two-measure melodic phrases of the earliest works. Here Haydn's composition is more expansive, more inspired. Then there's the 'Divertimento a Cinque' in G major, Hob.II:1, for flute, oboe, two violins and bass; a delightful chamber work that also recalls the style of the early string quartets. And the set closes with a violin concerto, 'Concerto per il Violino fatto per il Luigi' in C major, Hob.VIIa:1 (for unspecified forces), which is a wonderful early Haydn concerto, with excellent solo violin from Simon Standage who is also the Leader of the orchestra.

Is it harsh to say that some of Haydn's music is boring? I think even the most committed Haydn lover would agree that a lot of Haydn's production pales in comparison to his greatest works - the symphonies, string quartets and piano sonatas. Nevertheless, there is a lot of fine music on these five discs; you just need to pick and choose. At the near-budget price of five discs for the price of three, you wouldn't go wrong with this set, if you care for Haydn's instrumental music. At a minimum, you'd be likely to hear things you hadn't heard before. And when you get to the later discs, you'll find some wonderful music performed by talented musicians.

Kirk McElhearn
Kirk McElhearn writes about more than just music on his blog Kirkville (

Previous collections have included the 6-disc set of Scherzandi, Baryton Octets and Lira Concerti (BISCD1796/98) and the 2-disc set of the complete overtures (BISCD1818). Forming a worthy finale to this series of re-releases, the present set of five discs includes all of the extant early Divertimenti by Haydn: works composed in the 1750s and 60s for ensembles of winds and strings in various combinations and typically scored for between 5-9 players.

Full Track Listing

CD 1:
'Divertimento a cinque' in G major, Hob.II:2
1. Presto 1:19
2. Allegro moderato 4:44
3. Menuet 4:18
4. Adagio 2:09
5. Menuet 3:53
6. Finale. Presto 2:04

'Divertimento a nove Stromenti' in G major, Hob.II:9
7. Allegro molto 2:41
8. Menuet 3:42
9. Adagio cantabile 4:46
10. Menuet 4:40
11. Finale. Presto 2:28

'Divertimento a nove Stromenti' in F major, Hob.II:20
12. Allegro 3:27
13. Menuet 4:11
14. Adagio 6:23
15. Menuet 3:15
16. Finale. Presto 1:45

Divertimento in G major, Hob.II:G1
17. Allegro molto 1:41
18. Menuet I 4:01
19. Adagio 4:12
20. Menuet II 3:58
21. Finale. Presto 1:32

CD 2:
'Divertimento a cinque' (Feldparthie) in G major, Hob.II:3
1. Allegro 0:58
2. Menuet 2:26
3. Andante 2:29
4. Menuet 3:11
5. Presto 1:14

'Feld Parthie - Divertimento a Sei' in C major, Hob.II:7
6. Allegro 1:41
7. Menuet 2:46
8. Adagio sostenuto 2:29
9. Menuet 2:04
10. Finale. Presto 1:11

'Divertimento a Sei' (Feldparthie) in F major, Hob.II:15
11. Presto 0:59
12. Minuet 2:29
13. Adagio 1:18
14. Minuet 2:32
15. Finale. Presto 1:40

'Divertimento' (Feldparthie) in C major, Hob.II:14
16. Allegro 0:38
17. Menuet 1:06
18. Adagio 2:07
19. Menuet 0:58
20. Finale. Presto 0:40

Feldparthie in F major, Hob.II:23
21. Allegro 2:02
22. Menuet 2:47
23. Adagio 1:43
24. Menuet 2:52
25. Finale. Presto 1:24

Feldparthie in B flat major, Hob.II:46 (wrongly attributed to Haydn)
26. Allegro con spirito 4:27
27. Chorale St. Antoni 1:56
28. Menuetto 2:52
29. Rondo. Allegretto 1:54

30. 'March for the Prince of Wales' in E flat major, Hob.VIII:3 5'04

31. 'March for the Royal Society of Musicians' in E flat major, Hob.VIII:3bis 5'20

CD 3:
'Divertimento a 8to - Feldparthie' in F major, Hob.II:16
1. Allegro 2:17
2. Menuet moderato 3:00
3. Adagio 3:48
4. Menuet poco vivace 2:17
5. Finale. Presto 2:05

Divertimento in D major, Hob.II:8
6. Allegro 3:16
7. Menuet 3:40
8. Adagio 6:13
9. Menuet 4:18
10. Finale. Presto 1:42

Fragment (Variations) in E flat major, Hob.II:24
11. Tempo di Minuetto 8:28

'Divertimento a nove Stromenti' in C major, Hob.II:17
12. Marcia. Adagio 3:34
13. Allegro 4:58
14. Menuet 4:59
15. Recitativo. Andante 5:40
16. Menuet 4:43
17. Allegro molto - Andante - Presto 4:03

CD 4:
'Divertimento per il Cembalo con Violino, 2 Corni e Basso' in E flat major, Hob.XIV:1
1. Moderato 6:27
2. Menuet 3:16
3. Presto 4:32

'Divertimento a Sei Stromenti' in E flat major, Hob.II:21
4. Allegro molto 2:57
5. Minuet 2:46
6. Adagio 5:39
7. Minuet poco allegro 3:11
8. Finale. Presto 2:03

'Divertimento a Sei Stromenti' in D major, Hob.II:22
9. Presto 2:28
10. Minuet 3:51
11. Largo cantabile 7:13
12. Minuet 2:35
13. Finale. Presto 0:59

Cassatio in D major, Hob.II:D22
14. Allegro moderato 3:57
15. Menuet 3:19
16. Adagio 1:54
17. Menuet 2:53
18. Finale. Allegro 0:49

CD 5:
'Divertimento a Cinque' in G major, Hob.II:1
1. Allegro 3:15
2. Andante moderato 9:32
3. Menuet 2:07
4. La Fantasy. Moderato (Tema con variazioni) 8:04

Divertimento in C major, 'Der Geburtstag', Hob.II:11
5. Presto 2:11
6. Andante moderato "Mann und Weib" 4:54
7. Menuet 3:06
8. Finale. Moderato (Tema con variazioni) 8:37

'Divertimento á tre per il Corno da Caccia' in E flat major, Hob.IV:5
9. Moderato assai 5:08
10. Allegro di molto 2:55

'Concerto per il Violino fatto per il Luigi' in C major, Hob.VIIa:1
11. Allegro moderato 9:18
12. Adagio 4:40
13. Finale. Presto 4:18


































































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