About this Recording
8.550770 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 13 (Nos. 64, 84, 90)

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Symphony No.64 in A Major "Tempora mutantur"
Symphony No.84 in E Flat Major
Symphony No.90 in C 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.

Symphony No.64 in A major is now known to have been written about 1773. The strange title "Tempora mutantur" is found on the surviving authentic manuscript parts of the symphony. The quotation itself is well enough known - "Tempora mutantur, et nos in illis" (Times change and we change with the times) - but its precise relevance to the present symphony is not clear. Scored for the usual pairs of oboes and horns, with a bassoon doubling the lowest string part, the work opens with a softly questioning phrase, completed loudly by the whole orchestra, the melodic completion in the lower string parts. The question is repeated slightly louder, and answered at first equally softly by the violas, before the entry again of the whole orchestra, the answering melodic figure then made much of in the modulation to a second subject. Various elements from the exposition re-appear in the central development, while the recapitulation that follows at first allows the oboes a fairer share of the melodic material. Muted violins carry the burden of the D major slow movement in material that is repeated, framing a central section in which the wind instruments play some part, as the oboes do when the hymn-like principal theme returns for the last time. The Minuet makes use of a rhythmic figure variously attributed to Scotland and to Hungary, with a Trio marked by the wide leaps of the violin parts. The principal theme of the last movement, entrusted to the first violins, re-appears in the dominant key, before returning in A major to usher in a dramatic excursion into the key of F sharp minor. The same principal theme forms a whispered preface to the final emphatic ending of the symphony.

Haydn's Symphony No.84 in E flat major is the third of a set of six written for Paris. The Paris Symphonies were commissioned by the young Comte d'Ogny, Claude-François-Marie Rigoley, for the Concert de la Loge olympique, a masonic organization .The orchestra for which Haydn was writing was a large one, with forty violins, as opposed to the mere eleven available at Esterháza, and ten double basses. It was rumoured that the players themselves were all freemasons, as well as the Count himself and, presumably, the greater part of the audience at these fashionable concerts. The new symphonies were welcomed enthusiastically in Paris, where Haydn was already held in the highest esteem. The symphony, written in 1786 and first performed in Paris the following year, is scored for a single flute, with pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, with strings, the double bass here distinguished from the cello part in passages of the first movement. There is a slow introduction to the symphony, played by the whole orchestra, followed by an Allegro in which the strings are entrusted with the first subject, completed by the full orchestra, before the flute joins in the theme. Oboes and bassoons together introduce the related second subject, and elements of this material are exploited in the central development, before the return of the first subject in its original key, followed by the second subject, in which oboes and bassoons have the assistance of the two horns. The B fiat major slow movement consists of a theme and variations, the first of these in the tonic minor, to be ornamented in a major key second variation by the strings, who had first stated the theme. The lower register instruments add a livelier accompaniment to the variation that follows. The last variation includes a canonic treatment of the theme, with instruments coming in one after the other, the plucked strings entering with the bassoons. The Minuet and Trio duly appear, the latter particularly interesting in its handling of instrumental colour, as is the cheerful and inventive Finale.

Symphony No.90 in C major also seems to have been written in response to a commission from the Comte d'Ogny for three symphonies, at the same time fulfilling are quest for three symphonies from a Bavarian patron, Prince Krafft Ernst von Oettingen-Wallenstein. The symphony was composed in 1788 and is similar in scoring to Symphony No.84, although surviving sources suggest that, while Esterháza was able to provide horn-players able to cope with instruments in high C (C alto), Paris would have made use of trumpets and timpani, with horn-players tackling the easier lower C (C basso) horn parts. There is a slow introduction to the symphony, thematically related to the Allegro assai that follows. The second subject is unexpectedly introduced by the solo flute, with a reduced string accompaniment, the melody then taken up by the oboe. The flute and oboe have an F major version of this material in the course of the central development, while the oboe restates the second subject in the final recapitulation, followed by the flute in a higher register. The F major slow movement has a contrasting F minor section. When the original theme re-appears, the flute is again allowed prominence, accompanied only by the violins. The final version of this theme, following a further exploration of the material in F minor, is played by the cellos, once more separated from the double basses, with a triplet violin accompaniment. The opening figure of the theme provides the substance of the final coda. The Minuet frames a Trio in which a solo oboe takes the lead, while the last movement brings characteristic surprises, not least in a sudden prolonged pause, after which the key is abruptly changed, before the final section of the movement.

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.

Close the window