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8.557571 - HAYDN: Symphonies, Vol. 29 (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphonies Nos. 1-5

Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choirschool of St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, he subsequently spent some years earning a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard, and was able to profit from association with the old composer Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn’s first appointment was probably as early as 1758 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin, whose kinsman had once served as patron to Vivaldi. This was followed in 1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, succeeded after his death in 1762 by Prince Nicolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had found much to complain about in the professionalism of his young and resented deputy, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in the same employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.

On the completion of the magnificent palace at Esterháza in the Hungarian plains under Prince Nicolaus, 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 music for the theatre, as well as 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.

Prince Nicolaus died in 1790 and Haydn found himself able to accept an invitation to visit London. There he provided music for concert seasons 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 with them. 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.

Haydn lived during the period of the eighteenth century that saw the development of instrumental music from the age of Bach and Handel to the era of the classical sonata, with its tripartite first-movement form and complementary two or three further movements, the former the basis now of much instrumental composition. The symphony may claim to have become the most important form of orchestral composition and owes a great deal, if not its precise paternity, to Haydn. He first attempted such composition some time before 1759 and wrote his last symphonies for London in the final decade of the century.

Haydn probably wrote his Symphony No. 1 in D major in 1758 or 1759 for Count von Morzin, who employed a body of musicians at his castle at Lukavec. The work is scored, like the other symphonies included here, for the usual pairs of oboes and horns, and strings, with a bassoon doubling the continuo bass line. Surviving manuscript parts show that the Lukavec orchestra could muster two desks of first and second violins and full details of the fascinating rediscovery of these parts is described in detail in the first volume of C.H.Robbins Landon’s definitive work on the composer. The symphony begins with an effect suggesting a device used by the Mannheim composers, an ascending crescendo, forming the first subject. The short second subject follows immediately, with transitional material bringing the necessary modulation to the dominant key, before the relatively short development and final recapitulation. The G major slow movement is scored for strings. The second half of the Andante, brings further rhythmic contrasts, starting with a return to the main theme, now in D major, and moving through G minor to its conclusion. The symphony ends with a tripartite Presto that opens with an ascending arpeggio figure and includes a brief central development.

Symphony No. 2 in C major, No. 5 in Haydn’s own numbering, has been conjecturally dated to a period before 1761. It again starts with a theme derived from the ascending scale, extended before the appearance of the G minor second subject. The more expanded development opens with the first subject now in the dominant major, before the return of the material in the home key. Oboes and horns are silent in the G major slow movement, and first and second violins share the continuing semiquaver figuration, with the lower strings collaborating in the bass line. The work ends with a simple rondo, its main subject serving to frame episodes in C minor and in F major.

Again from the works written for Lukavec, Symphony No. 3 in G major, No. 21 in Haydn’s own listing, has been dated to 1759 or 1760 and represents a further development in the composer’s style. In the first movement quaver figuration in the lower parts accompanies the broad theme announced by oboes and violins, the former playing an important part in the D major second subject. The invitation to counterpoint offered by the principal theme is taken up in the development, and the material is further explored in the recapitulation. The G minor second movement, for strings, brings dialogue between the first and second violins, and the following Menuet frames a Trio that gives full scope to the wind instruments. The symphony ends with a fugue in which the first entries are all marked pianissimo, a sign of contrapuntal things to come, culminating over a dominant pedal-point.

Symphony No. 4 in D major, No. 10 in Haydn’s numbering, like the other works here included, belongs to the period the composer spent in the service of Count von Morzin. The opening of the first movement summons attention. The second subject, introduced by the first violin and echoed briefly in the bass, is in A minor, the dominant major established as the exposition comes to an end. The central development opens with a version of the first subject and dwindles to nothing before the return of the theme in recapitulation. The D minor Andante, without oboes and horns, gives the lower strings a steady staccato, while the muted second violin offers syncopation and the muted first violin its own melody. The last movement, a Tempo di Menuetto, combines the tripartite finale form with the rhythm and mood of a minuet, allowing its central section to grow softer before the rousing return of the main theme.

Symphony No. 5 in A major, Haydn’s No. 13, dates from about 1760 and starts with an Adagio, ma non troppo, introduced by the strings, before the entry of the horns in the sixth bar, with the entry of the oboes further delayed. The central section is largely entrusted to the strings, with the horns returning to their demanding rôle in recapitulation. The following Allegro allows the violins to introduce the second subject, and the development is marked by wide leaps in the first violin, a characteristic effect. The Minuet has dynamic contrasts and frames a trio that gives prominence to the wind instruments, over accompanying violin figuration and the plucked notes of the lower strings. Violins alone start the concise final Presto softly in thematic material interrupted by ascending scales and the entry of the wind instruments. There is similar dyanmic contrast in the central section, before the return of the opening in recapitulation.

Keith Anderson

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