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Symphonies 92 and 93 are taken from a group of five Haydn symphonies recorded by Sir Colin Davis and the LSO in 2011.

The Haydn came in the first half of a series of programmes featuring the Nielsen Symphonies, which were a new venture for both Sir Colin and the LSO and were therefore the main focus for the orchestra and LSO Live. Sir Colin was happy for the Haydn performances to be recorded but was clear that Nielsen was the primary focus.

So, it was only after Sir Colin’s death in 2013 that we started looking for unreleased material, which might enhance his already extraordinary legacy. Sir Colin had a life long fascination with Haydn. He made a famous recording of the ‘London’ Symphonies with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1994 and during his final Indian summer with the LSO, made exceptional recordings of ‘The Creation’ and ‘The Seasons’

The two symphonies featured here are from the final period of Haydn’s creative life following the death of his patron Nikolaus Esterházy. No 92 in G major is known as the ‘Oxford’ as it was supposedly played in Oxford to mark the awarding of an honorary doctorate of music to Haydn by Oxford University in 1791. There is some doubt as to whether this performance actually took place, but whether it did or did not, the name has stuck.

Symphony 93 in D major is the first of a series of twelve symphonies commissioned by the German musical impresario Johan Peter Salomon for performance by his orchestra at the Hanover Square rooms in London. The Times described the first performance in 1792 thus: ‘Novelty of idea, agreeable caprice and whim, combined with all Haydn’s sublime and wonton grandeur, gave additional consequence to the soul and feelings of every individual present’

Not a bad way to describe the approach of Sir Colin and the LSO to these symphonies, which are amongst the most successful of LSO Live’s recent releases and a fitting memorial to Sir Colin’s love of Haydn.

James Mallinson, LSO Live Producer

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