About this Recording
8.550114 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 2 (Nos. 83, 94, 101)

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.83 in G Minor, La Poule
Symphony No.94 in G Major, Surprise
Symphony No.101 in D Major, The Clock

Joseph Haydn was as prolific as any eighteenth century composer, his fecundity a matter, in good part, of the nature of his employment and the length of his life. Born in 1732 in the village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright, he was recruited to the choir of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna at the age of eight, later earning a living as best he could as a musician in the capital and making useful acquaintances through his association with Metastasio, the Court Poet, and the composer Nicola Porpora.

In 1759, after some eight years of teaching and free-lance performance, whether as violinist or keyboard-player, Haydn found greater security in a position in the household of Count Morzin as director of music, wintering in Vienna and spending the summer on the Count's estate in Bohemia, where an orchestra was available. In 1760 Haydn married the eldest daughter of a wig-maker, a match that was to bring him no great solace, and by the following year he had entered the service of Prince Paul Anton Esterházy as deputy to the old Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had much fault to find with his young colleague. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton died and was succeeded by his brother Prince Nikolaus, who concerned himself with the building of the great palace of Esterháza. In 1766 Werner died, and Haydn assumed the full duties of Kapellmeister, spending the larger part of the year at Esterháza and part of the winter at Eisenstadt, where his first years of service to the Esterházy family had passed.

Haydn's responsibilities at Esterháza were manifold. As Kapellmeister he was in full charge of the musicians employed by the Prince, writing music of all kinds, and directing performances both instrumental and operatic. This busy if isolated career came to an end with the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790. From then onwards Haydn had greater freedom, while continuing to enjoy the title and emoluments of his position as Kapellmeisterto the Prince's successors.

Haydn's release from his immediate responsibilities allowed him, in 1791, to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concerts organised by Johann Peter Salomon. His considerable success red to a second visit in 1794. The following year, at the request of the new Prince Esterházy, who had succeeded his eider brother in 1794, he resumed some of his earlier duties as Kapellmeister, now in Eisenstadt and in Vienna, where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809.

In 1778 Mozart had visited Paris in the hope of finding ernployment of a suitable kind. He had there obliged the public with a symphony written for the larger orchestra available in the French capital. At Esterháza Haydn had an orchestra of some dozen string players. The concerts of the masonic Loge olympique, for which Haydn provided a set of symphonies in 1785, could muster 40 violins and ten basses. These Haydn Paris Symphonies had been commissioned by the young Comte d'Ogny and were performed in the 1787 season.

Symphony No.83, the second of the set, bears the nickname La Poule, not with reference to any lady of the French court, although the young Count's mistress was the subject of considerable comment, but a farm-yard reference to the clucking of the hen. The first movement has an ironically old-fashioned air about its opening subject, its intentions made clear by the clucking of the second subject, a witty juxtaposition given still more point in the central development section. The second movement is an E flat major Andante, with its own dynamic surprises, followed by a Minuet and Trio, the latter with a particularly charming dance like melody. The symphony ends with a witty and varied finale.

In 1791 Haydn had visited England for the first time, responding to the invitation and commission offered by the German-born violinist Salomon. Six new symphonies were to be provided for the subscription concerts organised by Salomon at the Hanover Square Rooms. Symphony No.94 was to be performed at a concert on 23rd March, 1792, the sixth of the new series, and proved to have an enduring popularity.

The first movement opens with a slow introduction, followed by a gentle enough first subject and a double second subject. The well known C major slow movement provides the surprise of a sudden burst of sound, interrupting the steady progress of the melody, which is then varied. The Minuet is much quicker than is usually the case, its Trio opening with first violins and bassoon in octaves. The finale is launched, as usual, by the strings, with a cheerful first subject, succeeded by a contrasting second subject in sonata form.

Symphony No.101 belongs to the group of six symphonies written for Haydn's second visit to London in 1794. It was played there at a concert on 3rd March, followed by operatic songs, a performance by Viotti of a violin concerto and by Fiorillo of a Chaconne. Again, as with most of the London symphonies, there is a slow introduction, this time in D minor, an eerie preface to a bright D major movement from which the symphony derives its nickname, The Clock, its source the accompanying figure with which the movement opens. The Minuet returns from G major to the key of D major, its Trio providing a lop-sided clock accompaniment to the initial flute melody. The symphony ends with a finale in which the second subject is a clear variant of the first. There is a D minor section, replaced by the major key to bring the work to a dramatic conclusion.

Capella Istropolitana
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an orchestra large enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its name drawn from the ancient name still preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the historic university established in the Slovak and one-time Hungarian capital by Matthias Corvinus, the orchestra works principally in the recording studio. Recordings by the orchestra on the Naxos label include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.

Barry Wordsworth
Barry Wordsworth's career has been dominated by his work for the Royal Ballet which started when he played the solo part in Frank Martin's Harpsichord Concerto, which was the score used by Sir Kenneth MacMillan for his ballet, Las Hermanas. In 1973 he became Assistant Conductor of the Royal Ballet's Touring Orchestra and in 1974 Principal Conductor of Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet. He made his debut at Covent Garden conducting MacMillan's Manon in 1975 and since then has conducted there frequently. He has toured extensively with the Royal Ballet, conducting orchestras in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, Canada and Australia, where he has been guest conductor for Australian Ballet.

In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal Ballet companies as guest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. He also continued to work with New Sadlers Wells Opera, with whom he has recorded excerpts from Kalman's Countess Maritza and Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg and The Merry Widow. For the Naxos label Wordsworth recorded a number of Mozart and Haydn symphonies, works by Smetana and Dvorak and for the Marco Polo label works by Bax.

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