About this Recording
8.550769 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 12 (Nos. 69, 89, 91)

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.69 in C Major, "Laudon"
Symphony No.89 in F Major
Symphony No.91 in E Flat Major

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.

Haydn probably wrote his Symphony No.69 in or about the year 1778, dedicating it to General Laudon (Freiherr von Laudon), a celebrated hero in the wars against Turkey, who had, nevertheless, scarcely distinguished himself in 1778 by his irresolution during the war with Prussia over the Bavarian succession. In 1783 Haydn arranged the symphony for pianoforte, with optional violin, although the last movement was omitted on publication. In correspondence with the publisher Artaria Haydn made it clear that any abridgement of the work would be amply compensated by the dedication to Laudon, a name to attract buyers. The symphony is scored for the usual strings, with pairs of oboes, bassoons and French horns, to which are added trumpets and drums. Oboes double the violins in the first four measures of the principal subject of the first movement, while the strings alone introduce the second subject. The central development section opens in A minor and brings marked dynamic contrasts before the return of the principal theme to introduce the recapitulation. Trumpets and drums play no part in the F major slow movement, introduced by the strings and leading to dramatic dynamic shading, as swelling sound dies away to nothing at the end of the first and second sections of the movement. Trumpets and drums add a martial element to the Minuet, its Trio melody entrusted to first violin and solo oboe. There is a brilliant final movement, with a C minor episode from which the first violin softly leads the way back again to the lively principal theme.

Symphony No.89 in F major is one of the pair of symphonies that the Esterházy violinist Johann Tost had taken with him to Paris in 1788, charged by Haydn with their sale. The latter entertained and expressed in his correspondence with his Paris publisher clear doubts about Tost's probity. Any suspicions of this kind were later removed, when Tost married a housekeeper in the Esterházy establishment, acquiring property that enabled him to go into business as a cloth-merchant and to commission music himself. The symphony is scored for pairs of oboes, horns and bassoons, strings and a single flute. Strong tutti chords open the first movement leading to the principal theme, entrusted, as is the second subject, to the strings. The C major slow movement is borrowed, as is the last movement, from one of the concertos for the limited lira organizzata written in 1786 for the King of Naples. The movement, varied in orchestration contains a central C minor section, heard before the return of the ingenuous principal theme. The wind band is deployed at the opening of the Minuet, which frames a gentler Trio. The principal theme of the last movement is marked with the unusual direction strascinando (dragging), when it makes its first re-appearance and there are marked dynamic contrasts that provide the necessary element of surprise, with which Haydn delighted and tantalised his audiences.

The three symphonies, Nos. 90, 91 and 92, were written partly in response to a further commission from the Comte d'Ogny for three symphonies to be performed in Paris by the Concert de la Loge Olympique, for which Haydn had written his six Paris Symphonies, Nos. 82 -87. At the same time, with a commercial acumen worthy of Beethoven, he endeavoured to fulfil the request of Prince von Oettingen-Wallerstein for three symphonies. Symphonies Nos. 91 and 92 were dedicated to Comte d'Ogny. The first of these, in E fiat major, is scored for flute, pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, and strings. The slow introduction with which the symphony begins leads to an Allegro with a cunningly contrived first subject that allows the first eight measures of the melody to serve as a bass for the second eight. The second subject ascends in sequence, while the triplets that end the exposition suggest a rhythm to be continued in the central development section. The B fiat slow movement theme serves as the basis for following variations, the first of which gives melodic prominence to the bassoon. The strings introduce a minor key version of the material, while are turn to the major allows the flute to double the melody, before being joined by other wind instruments. The lower strings have the melody, joined by the two bassoons, followed by double bass and second horn, to the accompaniment of a repeated rhythmic figure drawn from the theme itself. The repeated Minuet frames a Trio that introduces a canon between the bassoon and first violin, playing together, and the flute. The Finale is dominated by its principal subject, announced initially by the first violins. The first notes of the theme are later put to good use in a secondary role. A derivative of this is heard as the symphony draws to a close with all the emphatic assurance of Beethoven.

Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia
The Hungarian Nicolaus Esterházy Sinfonia was formed in1992 from members of the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra by Ibolya Tóth, of the Hungarian Phoenix Studio. The Sinfonia has among its musicians the principal wind-players of the Symphony Orchestra, many of whom have already recorded concertos for Naxos. The conductor of the Sinfonia is the flautist Béla Drahos.

Béla Drahos
Béla Drahos was born in Kaposvar in South-West Hungary in 1955 and entered the Györ Conservatory in 1969, winning first prize in the Concertino Prague '71 International Flute Competition and a year later in the flute competition staged by Hungarian Television. Study at the Liszt Academy in Budapest led to graduation with distinction in 1978, after a further award in Prague and in 1979 at the Bratislava Interpodium, and further distinction, including the Hungarian Liszt Prize in 1985, selection as Artist of the Year in Hungary in 1986 and the Bartók-Pásztory Prize in 1988. Béla Drahos is the leader and founding member of the Hungarian Radio Wind Quintet and since 1976 has served as Principal Flautist of the Budapest Symphony Orchestra. His concert career has included performances throughout Europe and as far afield as New Zealand. He has more recently embarked on a parallel career as a conductor, and in the summer of 1993 was appointed conductor of the Hungarian State Symphony Orchestra.

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