Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Haydn’s Music for England

Five Scottish Songs [8:18]
Piano Trio in A Hob XV:18 [18:04]
String Quartet in E flat Op 71 No 3 [21:28]
Scottish Song; The Lady’s Looking Glass; Country Dance [1:05]
London Trio II Hob IV:2 [6:49]
A Pastoral Song/The Mermaid’s Song [7:09]
Lord Cathcart’s Welcome Home [0:47]
London Trio III Hob IV:3 [3:29]
“O tuneful voice” [5:52]
Symphony No 94 in G “Surprise” (arr. Salomon) [22:54]
Judith Nelson (soprano); Paul Elliott (tenor); The Academy of Ancient Music (Simon Standage, Monica Huggett (violins), Jan Schlapp (viola), Anthony Pleeth (cello), Stephen Preston, Nicholas McGegan (flutes), Christopher Hogwood (fortepiano))
rec. Rosslyn Hill Chapel, London, September 1978
No texts included
DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 0388 [48:06 + 48:32]

You only have to read contemporary accounts to appreciate the extent of the adulation of Haydn and his music from his first visit to London in 1791. Less than a month after he arrived he met all the most prominent musicians staying in London and was introduced to the Prince of Wales. Dr Burney described the audience at his first public concert as showing “such a degree of enthusiasm as almost amounted to a frenzy”. These discs include examples of many of the types of music he went on to produce for his English audiences and friends. I have to say that my own reaction by the end of these discs was little different to that initial audience.

The first CD gets off to a good start with five of the arrangements of Scottish songs he made for William Napier. Beethoven’s arrangements tend to be performed more often and usually make a greater effect, but given playing and singing of this degree of commitment and understanding each becomes a little gem of imaginative response to the tunes by the composer. They are followed by the Piano Trio in A, again played with both swagger and finesse, especially in the wonderful gipsy-style finale. As Christopher Hogwood’s notes - presumably from the original LP issue - explain, the string quartet Op. 71 No. 3 is different in style from Haydn’s earlier quartets; more suited to public concerts. It is given a suitably large-scale performance here, taking full advantage of all its opportunities for display.

The first half of the second disc includes several short, pleasant, pieces as well as two of the Trios for two flutes and cello written for the flautist and composer Willoughby Bertie, the Earl of Abingdon. They are delightful pieces to play or to listen to. The disc ends with Salomon’s arrangement of the “Surprise” Symphony for flute, string quartet and piano. Salomon had paid Haydn not merely for writing the London Symphonies but also for their copyright so that he clearly wanted to get full value for his money. The real surprise is however just how good the arrangements were, and how little of the substance of the music is lost – no mean feat with such a master orchestrator as Haydn. Like everything else on these discs it is played and recorded to perfection.

Here are two discs full of superb music, well played and recorded and with interesting leaflet notes - but no texts for the vocal items. It is a pity that fillers could not be found to increase the limited playing time, but in the end it is the quality that counts and that is something these discs have in abundance.

John Sheppard

Superb music, well played and recorded.