Franz Josef Haydn produced about a half dozen works for the Lire Organizzate, an eighteenth century hybrid of the hurdy-gurdy and organetto that by the twentieth century was nothing more than a museum instrument, with only about 20 examples extant and none playable. These works are commonly performed on recordings with a standard pipe organ in place of the Lire; however, Laborie's excellent release Joseph Haydn: deLerium stands apart in that the works are heard, for the first time in probably 200 years, on a pair of Lire Organizzate. Matthias Loibner and Thierry Nouat play reconstructed instruments built by hurdy-gurdy specialist Wolfgang Weichselbaumer that have a sweet and slightly tart tone reminiscent of an exotic brand of Viennese candy. While the Lire is obviously the star of the show, Laborie likewise includes a couple of Haydn's pieces for the Baryton, another obscure instrument favored by his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy, for whom Haydn found himself obligated to create more than 100 works for this rather limited, dull-toned instrument. Even in these pieces, Haydn's patented "surprises" are part of the mix; when the natural horns creep into the final movement of the Divertimento in A for Baryton one really notices the difference.
The disc is characterized by splendid performances by the Ensemble Baroque de Limoges and Quatuor Mosaïques under the direction of Christophe Coin. Laborie's Joseph Haydn: deLerium is delightful in every way, and should easily satisfy anyone who has ever wondered about the Lire Organizzate.