The London symphonies, sometimes called the Salomon symphonies after the man who introduced London to Joseph Haydn, were composed by Joseph Haydn between 1791 and 1795. They can be categorized into two groups: Symphonies No.93 through 98, which were composed during Haydn's first visit to London, and Symphonies No.99 through 104, composed in Vienna and London for Haydn's second London visit.
In February 2001 Abbado and the BPO were guests at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome to perform the Beethoven symphonies. For these, Abbado chose to use a new edition by Jonathan del Mar, which consists of existing manuscripts, and "corrections by Beethoven," which gave the conductor the opportunty to "throw new light on his reading, which takes a consistent and lucid approach to articulation, phrasing and dynamics." The conductor elected to use fewer strings, reducing the bass group in symphonies 1, 2, 4 and 8 to only three double basses and four cellos. He also uses only two horns in symphony 5, three in symphony 3. The result is an uncommonly transparent listening experience. And the performances are spirited to say the least, no dawdling here whatever. There always is a forward impetus to these dynamic performances which are magnificently executed by the orchestra.
Joseph Haydn, often referred to as 'The Father of the Symphony', has an enormous 109 of these works to his name. Within his vast oeuvre of symphonies is a group of 12, written between 1781 and 1795, which are known as the 'London' symphonies, composed during or for his two visits to the English capital. Brimming with inspiration and character, the 'London' symphonies contain many of the legendary moments of Haydn's works, including the drumroll opening of No.103, the ticking of the clock in the Andante of No.101, the jubilant sound of the triangle in the finale of the 'Military', and that arresting interjection of the timpani in the 'Surprise'. This collection brings together these wonderful works, each of which contributed to Haydn's crafting of the symphonic form that would later be taken up by none other than his pupil and friend, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra was formed by Adam Fischer in 1987 with the express purpose of performing the works of the revered composer.
Regular performances in some of the world's most prestigious venues have confirmed Florilegium's status as one of Britain's most outstanding period instrument ensembles. Florilegium has established a reputation for stylish and exciting interpretations of music from the Baroque era to the early Romantic revolution and since its formation, Florilegium's performances have received outstanding critical acclaim around the world.
Back from the wilderness of Sony's Essential Classics series, and remastered in nice, clear stereo along with Bernstein's set of Paris Symphonies for this same label, Szell's recordings of the first six London Symphonies represent the ultimate in big-band Haydn. And late Haydn should always be played with a big band: his own ensemble in London numbered some 60 players in a room that held 800. In other words, for one of today's typical concert halls he would have expected a full-sized, modern symphony orchestra, and that's just what he gets here.
This 37-disc box set is the only brand new and fully digital recording of the complete symphonies of Haydn. Performed by the Stuttgarter Kammerorchester (Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra) and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, the recordings were done live in connection with concerts of the whole cycle. The series received fantastic reviews by the press, and The Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra was awarded the European Chamber Music Prize in 2008. Available at a fantastic price, the set is released to tie in with the 200th anniversary of the composer’s death in 2009.