Review / When Mr Haydn went to London

Music / “Haydn & London”, Australian Haydn Ensemble. At the Great Hall, University House, March 8. Reviewed by GRAHAM McDONALD

The Australian Haydn Ensemble.

THIS was the opening performance for the ensemble’s 2018 season and an enjoyable evening of late 18th century music.

As the title of the concert suggests, the three pieces played all have a connection with Haydn’s visits to London during the early 1790s.

The concert opened with a Trio in G major for flute, violin and cello. The first movement was a little tentative, but the three were all working well together by the end. The tone of Melissa’s Farrow’s flute was especially satisfying.

The second work was the String Quartet Op 74, No 3 in G minor. Again, it began a little unevenly, but by the final movement all came together. The second, slow, movement had moments of errant pitch, just enough to detract from the tight ensemble playing, but rescued by better control through the last two sections.

The final work for the evening, an arrangement of Symphony No. 104 in D major, “The London”, was a delight. Originally scored for eight woodwinds, four brass, tympani and strings, it was arranged for flute and string quartet with fortepiano accompaniment by J.P. Saloman, Haydn’s London concert promoter.

The execution of this was just about perfect, although the fortepiano was a lot more piano than forte. Saloman’s arrangement included a semi-improvised keyboard part, and from what could be heard, it was little more than a chordal accompaniment and a doubling of the cello line. It provided a subtle underpinning of the structure for the other instruments.

The equivalent concert last year was disappointing in terms of group cohesion and pitch discipline. This was a notable improvement. It was a well thought out program and well presented. Director and violinist Skye McIntosh introduced each work

which always adds a little more to the understanding of the work and is to be commended.

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