About this Recording
8.550139 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 1 (Nos. 82, 96, 100)

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.96 in D Major, The Miracle
Symphony No.100 in G Major, Military
Symphony No. 82 in C Major, L'Ours/The Bear

Joseph Haydn was as prolific as any eighteenth century composer, his fecundity a matter, in good pan, 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 same 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 wigmaker, 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 Esterh8za. 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 Kapellmeister to 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 led 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 same of his earlier duties as Kapellmeister, now in Eisenstadt and in Vienna, where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809.

The first visit to England began on New Year's Day, 1791, the event celebrated in undistinguished English verse in the popular press. Salomon had arranged a series of twelve subscription concerts, to be held in the Hanover Square Rooms, the first of which took place, after various postponements, on 11th March, and included a new Grand Overture by Haydn, probably the Symphony No.96, which was certainly played during the earlier part of the season. Its nickname, The Miracle, came about, it is said, because of the miraculous escape of a number of members of the audience who moved forward to see Haydn when he appeared, thus avoiding being crushed by a falling chandelier.

The first movement opens, as do most of the London symphonies, with a slow introduction, the solo oboe leading to the Allegro, in which the first violin proposes the principal theme, followed by a subsidiary theme in which the woodwind instruments at first answer the first violin. The development seems to end with a sudden pause, but what follows is in another key, leading eventually to the recapitulation proper. The G Major slow movement allows the wind instruments a gradually increasing share, after the announcement of the principal theme by the first violin. There is a Minor middle section, before the return of the main theme, with scoring for two solo violins. The Minuet calls for the full orchestra, with its flutes, oboes, bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, while the companion Trio is dominated by the solo oboe. The finale is opened by the strings with the principal theme, a lively and delicate rondo, that includes an excursion into the Minor, with the same theme, and a contrapuntal development of the material.

In 1794 Haydn set out on his second visit to London and in February Salomon's subscription season began in the Hanover Square Rooms. Six new symphonies had been commissioned, and of these Symphony No.100 in G major was played at the eighth concert, on 31st March, in a programme that included the performance of a new Haydn quartet and a concerto composed and played by the violinist Viotti. The Grand Military Overture, as the new work was described, starts with a slow introduction, thematically connected with w hat follows. The Allegro is opened by the flutes and oboes, followed by the strings, a procedure that also marks the second subject, later to be imitated in military style by Johann Strauss. The C Major second movement, marked Allegretto, includes a military battery of kettledrums, triangle, cymbals and bass drum in its scoring, as well as allowing the wind band a proper share of the music. The Minuet is relatively slow, with a touch of the ominous in the G Minor bars of the Trio. The symphony ends with a rondo, the main theme of which quickly became widely popular in England, where it was to serve its purpose in the ball-room. Towards the end of the finale the military percussion is again used, to the disapproval of one contemporary critic, but nevertheless providing an additional unity to the work.

Sixteen years earlier, in 1778, Mozart, during the course of his unhappy visit to Paris, had obliged the public with a work suited to the larger orchestra of the French capital, bigger even than the relatively large orchestra that Salomon assembled from underpaid musicians for his London concerts. Haydn enjoyed considerable esteem in Paris, and in 1785, in response to a commission from the young Comte d'Ogny, he provided a set of six Paris symphonies, designed for the larger orchestra available there. At the palace of Esterháza Haydn had a small band, with less than a dozen string players: the concerts of the masonic Loge Olympique, for which he wrote his new symphonies, could master forty violins and ten basses.

Symphony No.82 in C Major, the first of the set, was written in 1786, one of a second group of three in order of composition. All seem to have been played for the first time during the 1787 concert season, when they were enthusiastically received. No.85 appealed particularly to Queen Marie Antoinette, and was thereafter known as La Reine, while No.83 became known as La poule, a reference to the clucking of a first movement melody rather than to any lady of the French court. No.82 won the nickname L'Ours, The Bear, from the bagpipe bear-dance that opens its last movement.

The symphony provides a fine opportunity for the premier coup d'archet, the unanimous attack at the beginning of a work, a feature on which French orchestras prided themselves and that Mozart had found unexceptional. The gentler second subject of the first movement follows relatively startling discords. The slow movement, not a particularly slow one, offers two themes, the first in F Major, the second, a related one, in F Minor. These elements are repeated with variations, with a final repetition of an even more varied version of the first theme, followed by a coda. The French-style Menuet and its contrasting Trio leads to the famous finale, with its opening bagpipe drone from the cellos and double basses, and bear-dance violin melody, elements that dominate the rest of a remarkable movement.

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. Other recordings by the orchestra in the Naxos series include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, fifteen of Mozart'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 recently recorded excerpts from Kalman's Countess Maritza and Lehar's The Count of Luxembourg and The Merry Widow .He has also recorded for the Naxos label (Smetana: Moldau & The Bartered Bride/Dvorak: Slavonic Dances) and for the Marco Polo label (Bax: Sinfonietta; Overture, Elegy & Rondo).

Close the window