“Mirth (lack of)

“It is well known that music can cheer us up, but we are unlikely to go to a concert or head to our record collection if we are in need of a good laugh, saving that job for films, TV, books, poetry, theatre and, naturally, live comedy. Classical music is full of pieces that raise a smile, a muted snort at most, but there are a few funny ones nevertheless …

“Long attributed to Haydn but now known to be the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s father, Leopold, the 'Toy Symphony' is scored for orchestra and an assembly of toy instruments, including drum, cuckoo, nightingale, rattle and triangle. Delivery here is the key, and the piece is best seen live and performed straight. The comedy comes mostly from the sight of adult musicians grappling with a battery of tiny instruments against the exceptional, four-square orchestral accompaniment.

“Recommended Listening: Mozart (Leopold) — 'Toy Symphony.' I Musici de Montreal/Yuli Turovsky (Chandos)”