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8.550722 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 7 (Nos. 6, 7, 8)
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Symphony No.6 in D Major, "Le
Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choir-school of St.Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, he spent some years earning a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard, and was able to learn from the old musician Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn's first appointment was in 1759 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in 1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by his brother Prince Nikolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in the same employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.
On the completion of the magnificent palace at Esterháza, in the Hungarian plains under the new Prince, Haydn assumed command of an increased musical establishment. Here he had responsibility for the musical activities of the palace, which included the provision and direction of instrumental music, opera and theatre music, and music for the church. For his patron he provided a quantity of chamber music of all kinds, particularly for the Prince's own peculiar instrument, the baryton, a bowed string instrument with sympathetic strings that could also be plucked.
On the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790, Haydn was able to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concert season organized by the violinist-impresario Salomon. A second successful visit to London in 1794 and 1795 was followed by a return to duty with the Esterházy family, the new head of which had settled principally at the family property in Eisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career. Much of the year, however, was to be spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years, dying in 1809, as the French armies of Napoleon approached the city yet again.
Whether Haydn was the father of the symphony is a question best left to musical genealogists. His career , however, spanned the period during which the classical symphony developed as the principal orchestral form. He himself certainly played a major part in this development, from his first symphony some time before 1759 to his final series of symphonies written for the greater resources of London in 1794 and 1795. The London symphonies were preceded by similar works for Paris and a much larger body of compositions of more modest scoring for the orchestra at Esterháza and at Eisenstadt, many of the last calling for a necessary keyboard continuo, in view of the relatively smaller number of string players available. Under Prince Paul Anton the Esterházy orchestra had seven string players. one flute, one bassoon and pairs of oboes and horns, a body perhaps augmented by other members of the household in Vienna or Eisenstadt, as occasion arose.
The set of three programmatic symphonies by Haydn Nos.6. 7and 8, Le Matin, Le Midi and Le Soir, were written in 1761 at the desire of Prince Paul Anton, a patron who had long shown a fondness for the music of Italy, the native country of his wife, the Marchesa Lunati-Visconti. The orchestra for which the symphonies were written was smaller than that later available at Esterháza but had players of some virtuosity, not least the violinist Luigi Tomasini, for whom at this time Haydn wrote his three surviving violin concertos.
Symphony No.6 in D major, "Le Matin", is scored for flute, two oboes, bassoon, two horns, strings and keyboard, and opens with an Adagio that, in the space of six bars, suggests in its crescendo the rising of the sun, as dawn breaks. The principal theme of the Allegro that follows is given to a solo flute, its melody capped by the oboes. The closing section of the exposition provides an opportunity for marked dynamic contrast, before flute and oboes offer the principal theme in the dominant key, starting a brief central development to be concluded by a solo horn anticipation of the recapitulation proper. The second movement starts with an Adagio, scored, like the rest of the movement, for solo violin, solo cello and strings. The opening of this G major movement is in the form of a slowly ascending scale, the solo instruments coming to greater prominence in the central triple metre Andante, after which the Adagio scale returns with an added counterpoint from the lower strings. The wind instruments re-appear in the Minuet, where the flute has initial prominence, leaving the bassoon to represent the section in the D minor Trio. There are solo violin and cello parts in the last movement, opened by the flute with an ascending D major scale and proceeding to allow the solo violin its head, as the movement progresses.
The second symphony of the set, Symphony No.7 in C major, "Le Midi", is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes and horns, with a bassoon, and a string section that includes two solo violins and complementary solo cello and double bass, as well as the usual harpsichord. In the first movement the flutes are silent. There is a slow introduction in the dotted rhythms of the French overture before the Allegro, ushered by the strings and bassoon and allowing the appearance of the traditional Italian concertino group of solo first and second violin and bass in contrast to the surrounding texture. The slow movement starts in C minor with an unusual recitative for solo violin, in the manner of instrumentally accompanied recitative, where the solo instrument is at times joined by the other players. After a recitative cadence in B minor, there follows a further Adagio, now in G major, in which the strings are joined by the two flutes. The movement ends with a cadenza for solo violin and cello. The original key is restored in the Minuet, where oboes replace flutes again. The Trio offers an unusual double bass solo. The final Allegro again employs the string concertino and gives some importance to a solo flute.
"Le Soir", the third symphony of the set, in G major, is similar in instrumentation, with flute, bassoon, a pair of oboes and horns, and strings that include solo first and second violin, solo cello and double bass, and harpsichord. The strings start the first movement Allegro molto with a simple eight-bar melody in 3/8, capped by a brief interjection from the violins and flute. The same theme, in various guises, provides the melodic substance of the movement. It is followed by a C major Andante for strings and solo bassoon, with use made immediately of the traditional concertino group of two violins and obbligato cello, echoed at once by solo cello and bassoon. By comparison the following G major Minuet is straightforward in its appeal, its C major Trio left to strings and bassoon. The symphony ends with a storm, La Tempesta, suggesting Vivaldi's evocation of bad weather fifty years or so before. Here thunder and lightning are provided by a relatively small group of instruments, the latter represented principally by the flute, with the solo violin engendering much of the excitement in its opening octave figuration.
Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
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