Saturday, October 15, 2011

Little Orchestra of London: Haydn's Symphony No. 104

The Little Orchestra of London performs the twelfth of the so-called London Symphonies, No. 104 in D major by Franz Joseph Haydn, Leslie Jones conducting. Haydn [1732-1809] composed this piece in London in 1795, and it made its premiere at the King’s Theatre, in London, on May 4, 1795. The concert was a Haydn affair, consisting entirely of Haydn's own compositions, which Haydn conducted to the audience's great appreciation and enjoyment.


I discovered this orchestra quite by accident, a happy fortuitous discovery. Since I knew nothing about them or its conductor, I felt that I was obligated to conduct some research on them. In a review in The Brussels Journal, Thomas F. Bertonneau writes:
In the 1960s, conductor Leslie Jones formed The Little Orchestra of London, with which he recorded the “Paris” and “London” symphonies. Jones was an early advocate of period performance practice (although that designation did not yet exist) and, because he was not fanatical about it, one of the best. His performances revived the use of harpsichord continuo in the symphonies, used with reticence and discretion. Jones manages to outdo Scherchen in delivering these scores with a maximum of verve, almost as though he thought of himself as competing with the popular music of the day.
If any reader knows more about Leslie Jones and The Little Orchestra of London, I would be pleased to hear about it.