The previously unreleased Haydn project by L’Estro Armonico, recorded between 1980-1986 appearing on available on 18 CDs for the first time

36 Symphonies appearing on CD for the first time

16 CDs remastered from analog and digital tapes


In the 1980s, as the movement for historically informed performance was booming, there was a sudden flurry of attempts by period-instrument ensembles to record all of Haydn’s 106 symphonies. It was perhaps inevitable that none of them would reach the summit of this musical Everest – most made it about halfway up to this ambitious and costly undertaking.

One of these Haydn series that created a stir at the time was directed by the London-based violinist-conductor Derek Solomons. Between 1980 and 1986, he recorded 49 symphonies with his hand-picked ensemble, L’Estro Armonico. Sony Classical is now pleased to present all of these pioneering Haydn performances for the first time on CD. Included in this new collected edition of 18 newly mastered discs are several recordings never before issued in any medium.

In an interview for Gramophone, Solomons stated: “There seemed no better composer to look at than Joseph Haydn to make our recording début on original instruments – and also the début of these symphonies in this kind of performance. I’d discovered that there was a group of 14 symphonies written for Count Morzin before Haydn started working for Count Esterhazy.”

On questions such as the historically correct size of the ensemble, Solomons’s guide (and the annotator of all his Haydn symphony releases) was H.C. Robbins Landon, the doyen of Haydn scholars. Landon had determined from contemporary sources that Haydn’s “Morzin” orchestra initially comprised only three first and three second violins, one each of viola, cello and bass, with a pair of oboes, a pair of horns and a bassoon.

After recording the early “Morzin” group, Solomons turned to the ground-breaking “Sturm und Drang” symphonies that Haydn composed in the years following his move – in around 1760 – from Count Morzin’s Vienna establishment to the wealthy, influential, music-loving Hungarian court of Count Esterházy. In 1982, L’Estro Armonico began with the six earliest of this astonishing body of works. They were released by CBS, which, having taken over the project from Saga, went on to record the ensemble’s Haydn until 1986 – long enough to complete the remaining symphonies from the “Sturm und Drang” period as well as a few earlier and later ones also written for Esterházy.

Although Derek Solomons’s vision of performing all the symphonies with L’Estro Armonico would, sadly, never materialize, there was almost unanimous enthusiasm for the works that were ultimately recorded and released: “It would be hard to imagine performances of more freshness and conviction … One is impressed by the light-textured quality of the playing, its neatness and precision … The string section is small … which enables the winds – especially the splendid high horns – to be heard with absolute clarity” (Gramophone); “I find it very difficult to go back to conventional Haydn, which seems so mannered and dull in comparison” (Classical Music); “The exhilaration I feel as I rediscover Haydn’s inventiveness, underlines the fact that I will never be able to listen again to Haydn being flattened by a steamroller of a large symphony orchestra” (Music & Video Week). As recently as 2012, a BBC Music Magazine critic called these “among the most brilliant Haydn performances I’ve heard.”

SET CONTENTS


DISC 1:

Haydn: Symphony No. 39 in G Minor, Hob. I:39
Haydn: Symphony No. 35 in B-Flat Major, Hob. I:35
Haydn: Symphony No. 38 in C Major, Hob. I:38, “The Echo”

DISC 2:

Haydn: Symphony No. 59 in A Major, Hob. I:59, “Fire”
Haydn: Symphony No. 49 in F minor, Hob. I:49, “La passione”
Haydn: Symphony No. 58 in F Major, Hob. I:58

DISC 3:

Haydn: Symphony No. 26 in D Minor, Hob. I:26
Haydn: Le pescatrici: Overture, Hob. I:106
Haydn: Symphony No. 41 in C Major, Hob. I:41

DISC 4:

Haydn: Symphony No. 48 in C Major, Hob. I:48, “Maria Theresia”
Haydn: Symphony No. 44 in E Minor, Hob. I:44, “Trauer”

DISC 5:

Haydn: Symphony No. 52 in C Minor, Hob. I:52
Haydn: Symphony No. 43 in E-Flat Major, Hob. I:43, “Mercury”

DISC 6:

Haydn: Symphony No. 42 in D Major, Hob. I:42
Haydn: Symphony No. 51 in B-Flat Major, Hob. I:51

DISC 7:

Haydn: Symphony No. 45 in F-Sharp Minor, Hob.I:45
Haydn: Symphony No. 46 in B Major, Hob. I:46

DISC 8:

Haydn: Symphony No. 47 in G Major, Hob. I:47
Haydn: Symphony No. 65 in A Major, Hob. I:65

DISC 9:

Haydn: Symphony No. 50 in C Major, Hob. I:50
Haydn: Symphony No. 64 in A Major, Hob. I:64
Haydn: Symphony No. 54 in G Major, Hob. I:54

DISC 10:

Haydn: Symphony No. 55 in E-Flat Major, Hob. I:55
Haydn: Symphony No. 56 in C Major, Hob. I:56

DISC 11:

Haydn: Symphony No. 57 in D Major, Hob. I:57
Haydn: Symphony No. 63 in C Major, Hob. I:63

DISC 12:

Haydn: Symphony No. 60 in C Major, Hob. I:60 “Il distratto”
Haydn: Symphony No. 68 in B-Flat Major, Hob.I:68

DISC 13:

Haydn: Symphony No. 66 in B-Flat Major, Hob. I:66
Haydn: Symphony No. 69 in C Major, Hob. I:69, “Laudon”
Haydn: Symphony No. 67 in F Major, Hob. I:67

DISC 14:

Haydn: Symphony No. 16 in B-Flat Major, Hob. I:16
Haydn: Symphony No. 17 in F Major, Hob. I:17
Haydn: Symphony No. 19 in D Major, Hob. I:19
Haydn: Symphony No. 20 in C Major, Hob. I:20
Haydn: Symphony No. 108 in B-Flat Major, Hob.I:108

DISC 15:

Haydn: Symphony No. 1 in D Major, Hob. I:1
Haydn: Symphony No. 37 in C Major, Hob. I:37
Haydn: Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Hob. I:2
Haydn: Symphony No. 15 in D Major, Hob. I:15

DISC 16:

Haydn: Symphony No. 4 in D Major, Hob. I:4
Haydn: Symphony No. 10 in D Major, Hob. I:10
Haydn: Symphony No. 18 in G Major, Hob. I:18

DISC 17:

Haydn: Symphony No. 5 in A Major, Hob. I:5
Haydn: Symphony No. 32 in C Major, Hob. I:32
Haydn: Symphony No. 11 in E-Flat Major, Hob. I:11

DISC 18:

Haydn: Symphony No. 33 in C Major, Hob. I:33
Haydn: Symphony No. 27 in G Major, Hob. I:27
Haydn: Symphony No. 107 in B-Flat Major, Hob. I:107
Haydn: Symphony No. 3 in G Major, Hob. I:3