The Australian Haydn Ensemble’s 2019 season got under way with a chorus of birdsongs, some creatures that on earth do dwell, and a strong surge of solar power in an all Haydn program of quartets at the Utzon Room.

Under artistic director and leader Skye McIntosh, the pared back ensemble put on a gorgeous program of four works aimed at showing Haydn’s love of nature.

Although the nicknames The Bird, The Larkand Sunrisedidn’t come from the composer and were usually added by the publisher to flog a few more copies, they do nevertheless capture the spirit of these pieces.

Australian Haydn Ensemble’s James Eccles. Photograph supplied

The program was laid out in chronological order so it was The BirdQuartet, the third from the groundbreaking Op 33 set, which got the evening off to a chirpy, hopping and trilling start and the four musicians, playing on period instruments with gut strings, gave a good account of this attractive work.

But the ensemble truly took flight in The Lark– Op. 64 No 5 – which followed. Here the ensemble work seemed more assured, the intonation truer and McIntosh’s flights up the fingerboard in...