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8.572130 - HAYDN, J.: Symphonies, Vol. 34 (Nos. 62, 107, 108 / La vera costanza: Overture / Lo speziale: Overture) (Mallon)
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Joseph Haydn (1732–1809)
Symphonies Nos. 62, 107 and 108


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 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.

By 1780, the approximate date of the composition of Symphony No. 62 in D major, Haydn had become increasingly busy with theatrical activities at Eszterháza, a fact reflected in his symphonies of the period. The first movement of Symphony No. 62 is based on an earlier overture, which had already served its purpose as an alternative finale to Symphony No. 53 and here has an added flute part, lacking in the original Overture. The symphony also includes pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns, with strings, in its instrumentation. These last introduce the second subject of the sonata-allegro form movement. The central development ends with a modulating version of the opening motif, before its due return in D major in recapitulation. The second movement, unusually in the same key as the first and marked Allegretto, starts with muted strings, the first violin soon to be doubled by the flute. There are curious dynamic effects and a passage in F major before the return of the original key. The Menuet has a G major Trio in which a bassoon plays a significant rôle, partly in doubling the violins. The finale has a first subject that starts with the ascending notes of the triad and a second subject marked by the reverse dotted rhythm of the so-called Scotch snap. This rhythm has an important part to play in the central development and makes its due return in the second part of the recapitulation, after contrapuntal suggestions in the return of the first subject.

The two symphonies numbered in the Hoboken catalogue as Hob.I: 107 and Hob.I: 108, known as Symphony ‘A’ and Symphony ‘B’, following the numbering of Eusebius Mandyczewski, were written in the late 1750s for Haydn’s first significant patron, Count Morzin, at Lukavec Castle. Both are scored for pairs of oboes and horns with strings and harpsichord continuo, the bass line perhaps doubled by a bassoon, an instrument that has its own moment of solo glory in the second work. Symphony ‘A’ found a later place in a French publication of Haydn’s Op. 1 Quartets, with the wind parts omitted. Two contrasting subjects are presented in due form, followed by a development section that starts with the ascending arpeggio of the first subject. The E flat major second movement is scored for strings, without the wind instruments, its principal theme framing a contrasting middle section. The last of the three movements is in tripartite sonata form.

Symphony ‘B’ also appeared in the Paris edition of early Haydn string quartets. The relatively short sonata-allegro first movement is followed by a Menuetto in which oboes and horns enjoy dialogue with the strings. A bassoon makes its own contribution to the E flat major Trio, in which the other wind instruments are silent. The ternary form Andante, without wind instruments, is capped by a final Presto in sonata form.

Haydn’s duties at Eszterháza included the provision of music for the theatre, both operas and incidental music for the many plays staged there. In 1782 Artaria published as Sei Sinfonie a gran orchestra opera XXXXV six overtures, five from earlier operas and one from the oratorio Il ritorno di Tobia for a fee of five ducats each. These included Haydn’s overture to his opera based on Goldoni’s Lo speziale (The Apothecary), first staged at the opening of the new opera house at Eszterháza in September 1768. The original play was adapted, perhaps by the tenor and producer Carl Friberth, who sang the title rôle. In this form it contains only the principal comic characters, Sempronio, the apothecary, his apprentice Mengone, who is in love with the apothecary’s adopted daughter Grilletta, and the disappointed suitor Volpino. In the third act, of which only a small part survives, there is a mock-Turkish episode in which Volpino presents himself as a husband for Grilletta, to the approval of her father. Eventually, however, the young lovers are united, as they had to be.

La vera costanza, the overture to which was also included in the Sei Sinfonie of 1782, had its first performance at Eszterháza in 1779 and was revived there in 1785, when Haydn was obliged to reconstruct the work largely from memory, after the destruction of the original performance material in a fire at the Eszterháza opera house in late 1779. The overture, of course, was already preserved in Artaria’s 1782 publication, augmented by ballet music from his opera Il mondo della luna, with a third and fifth movement included from the first scene of La vera costanza, to make up a five-movement symphony. The libretto, adapted from Francesco Puttini, already set in 1776 by Pasquale Anfossi, deals with the attempts of Baroness Irene’s attempts to separate what she thinks is the proposed marriage of her nephew Count Errico and the fisher-girl Rosina, although they are in fact already secretly married. It is the latter’s true constancy that is unduly tested, as the drama unfolds.

Keith Anderson

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