About this Recording
8.550757 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 10 (Nos. 30, 55, 63)
English 

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Symphony No.30 in C Major, "Alleluja"
Symphony No.55 in E Flat Major, "The Schoolmaster"
Symphony No.63 in C Major, "La Roxelane"

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 under the new Prince of the magnificent palace at Esterháza, built on the site of a former hunting-lodge set on the Hungarian plains, 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 keyboard continuo, at least with the relatively smaller number of string players available.

Symphony No.30 in C major, known as the "Alleluja", was written in 1765, possibly for performance on Easter Sunday in that year. It is scored for an orchestra of two oboes, bassoon, two horns in C and strings, with a solo flute in the second and third movements. The nickname of the symphony is derived from its use of a plainchant alleluja, in a form known in Haydn's time. This melody is first heard in part from the second oboe and second violins, with assistance from the French horns. The G major second subject is derived from the chant, which assumes importance in the central development. The strings open the G major slow movement, followed by the solo flute and oboes, with the horns now silent, to re-appear in the final Tempo di Menuet, which allows the solo flute a dominant position in an F major episode, followed by an A minor episode primarily for the strings, before the final return of the opening C major Minuet.

Haydn's Symphony No.55 in E flat major, popularly known as Der Schulmeister (The Schoolmaster), was written in 1774 and is scored for the usual Esterháza orchestra of the period, with pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, the last in E fiat and in B fiat alto, with strings. The origin of its nickname is not clear, but it was listed in 1805 by Haydn's assistant Eissler as Der verliebte Schulmeister (The Schoolmaster in Love). The first movement opens with four emphatic chords, followed by a gentler reply. The strings deal first with the second subject, while the development section, with its changes of key, is introduced by aversion of the first subject. The strings are muted as the B flat major second movement opens, announcing a simple theme in which some have detected the hand of the pedagogue and his subsequent infatuation. This material is then varied, retaining for most of the movement the simple two-voice texture, with violins doubling each other and viola doubling cello and double bass. The jocular E fiat Minuet has a contrasting Trio for violins and solo cello, while the final Rondo finds a place for an episode scored only for the four wind instruments. The symphony ends with a witty exchange between the instruments in a brief coda.

Symphony No.63 in C major, known as La Roxelane, seems to have been completed in its second or final version in 1780, but made use of material from an earlier period. The first movement was taken from Haydn's overture to the opera Il mondo della luna (The World of the Moon), a treatment of Goldoni staged at Esterháza in 1777. The slow movement, from which the symphony takes its popular name, was taken from incidental music for Favart's comedy Les trois sultanes, apparently performed at Esterháza in 1777 by a visiting troupe. Roxelane herself is one of the women of the title, and remarkably troublesome at that. The later version of the symphony is scored for flute, oboes, horns, bassoon and strings, omitting the trumpets and drums and second bassoon of the first version and substituting a different Minuet and Finale. The energetic opening subject of the first movement, taken up by the wind section, is duly contrasted with a more sinuous second subject and there is a dramatic central development and modified return of earlier material. The C minor Roxelane movement opens with muted strings, with oboes doubling violins at the octave in the following C major material. A solo flute doubles the first violins in the first C minor variation, after which the strings return, now with an elaborated second violin accompaniment, the wind re-introducing the C major theme, now varied by the strings in conclusion. Oboe and bassoon have prominence in the Trio, framed by a forth right Minuet, and the Finale opens delicately enough, before the whole orchestra makes its own emphatic statement to cap the principal theme. A subsidiary theme offers aversion of the Mannheim rocket in an ascending melodic figure. This material returns in a final recapitulation, with a coda that repeats the twists of key first heard in the ending of the first, exposition section.

Northern Chamber Orchestra, Manchester
Formed in 1967, the orchestra 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 Halle 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 Gertier. 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.


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