About this Recording
8.550724 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 9 (Nos. 22, 29, 60)
English 

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.22 in E Flat Major, "The Philosopher"
Symphony No.29 in E Major
Symphony No.60 in C Major, "Il Distratto"

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 Esteráhza and at Eisenstadt, many of the last calling for a keyboard continuo, at least with the relatively smaller number of string players available.

By 1764 Haydn had established himself in the favour of Prince Nikolaus Esterházy and had assumed the general duties of Kapellmeister, in place of Werner, who was now old and infirm. It was for Eisenstadt, the principal residence of the Prince, that he wrote his Symphony No.22 in E flat major, known to contemporaries and posterity as Der Philosoph. The scoring of the work is unusual, calling for two cor anglais instead of the usual oboes, with bassoon, two horns in E flat, strings and cembalo. Muted strings provide a quaver accompaniment at the outset to the measured antiphonal notes of the wind instruments, the cor anglais answering the horns. Structurally the movement echoes the old church sonata form, here offering a slow opening movement dominated by the recurrent chorale-like theme that appears in various keys. The second movement Presto offers a marked contrast of mood, its opening material briefly developed, before re-appearing in a third and final section. The Trio, framed by the customary repetition of the Minuet, allows prominence to the wind instruments, while the Finale has the hunting-horns echoed by the cor anglais in the rhythms of the chase.

Haydn's Symphony No.29 in E major was written in 1765 and scored for the usual orchestra of two oboes, two horns and strings, with a bassoon doubling the bass line. The first movement opens with a theme entrusted first to the strings, then capped by the oboes. Modulation to the dominant key brings wide leaps in the first violin and the introduction of a triplet rhythm that finds a place in the central development. The A major slow movement is in the hands of the strings, with the first violins answered by the seconds. The wind instruments return for the Minuet, but in the Trio the strings, now in E minor, are accompanied only by the sustained notes of the horns in a characteristic dance. The last movement opens strongly, proceeding to a development that momentarily relaxes the tension before the excitement of a movement that forms the climax of the symphony, rather than serving as a final light-hearted diversion.

In 1774 Haydn, now established at Esterháza, provided music for the play Der Zerstreute, an adaptation of the French comedy Le distrait, by Jean François Regnard, presented by the theatre troupe led by Carl Wahr, who was engaged by Prince Nikolaus in successive summers. The absent-mindedness of the principal character, on which the comedy revolves, is echoed in Haydn's incidental music, the basis of his Symphony No.60 in C major, othetwise known as Il Distratto. Scored for an orchestra that includes trumpets and drums, it opens with an introductory movement, an overture, that has a stately initial Adagio and a lively Allegro, the latter fading to nothing in momentary forgetfulness, before resuming with a forceful conclusion to the opening exposition. There is a similar lapse as the development comes to an end. The second, slow movement, marked Andante, or, in some sources, Adagio, is in G major and offers a gentle enough melody, interrupted more forcefully by the wind instruments and in the middle section by what one source describes as an old French melody. There is a Minuet and a Trio, the latter, in the key of C minor, suggesting local peasant influence. The strings enter in unison in the C minor Presto that follows, with its unexpected introduction of other melodies and keys. The drama now continues with an Adagio that in one source carries the subtitle di Lamentatione. Here a first violin melody is accompanied by the plucked notes of the lower strings and the arpeggios of the second violins, a process suddenly interrupted by the intrusion of wind instruments and drums. The speed of the movement increases, leading to a finale Prestissimo for which the violins have forgotten to tune, and need to adjust the bottom strings of their instruments from F to G. A further interruption allows the appearance of an ominous folk-song, identified by scholars as The Night-Watchman, and in consequence an allusion to the narrative.

Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
Formed in 1967, the Northern Chamber Orchestra in Manchester has established itself as one of England's finest chamber ensembles. Though often augmented to meet the requirements of the concert programme, the orchestra normally contains 24 musicians and performs both in concert and on disc without a conductor. Their repertoire ranges from the baroque era to music of our time, and they have gained a reputation for imaginative programme planning. Concerts take the orchestra throughout the North of England and it has received four major European bursaries for its achievements in the community. With a series of recordings for Naxos the orchestra makes its debut on disc.

Nicholas Ward
Nicholas Ward was born in Manchester in 1952, the son of parents who had met as members of the Hallé Orchestra. In consequence music played an important part in his life from childhood, allowing him, after less successful attempts as a pianist, to learn the violin and, at the age of twelve, to form his own string quartet. This last continued for some five years, until he entered the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he studied with Yossi Zivoni and later, in Brussels, with André Gertler. In 1977 Nicholas Ward moved to London, where he joined the Melos Ensemble and the Royal Philharmonic, when the orchestra worked under Antal Dorati as its Principal Conductor. He became co-leader of the City of London Sinfonia in 1984, a position followed by appointment as leader of the Northern Chamber Orchestra, of which he became Music Director two years later, directing from the violin. In this form the orchestra has won high regard for its work both in the concert hall and the broadcasting studio.


Close the window