How to Build a Classical CD Collection

30. Haydn: Surprise, Clock & Hen Symphonies

Haydn lived a long and productive life and left 104 numbered symphonies, the last dozen of which were written for public concerts in London in the last decade of the 18th century. Our recommended disc includes the Surprise and the Clock Symphonies from this last set, both of them aptly named, the first from a particularly loud and sudden use of the drum, calculated to rouse the somnolent. The nickname The Hen may seem less apt, although there is some very musical clucking to be heard. The titles serve to distinguish some, at least, among a large number of symphonies, but were not given by the composer. Contemporary audiences, however, were quick to find nicknames for their favourite works.

Recommended recording
Haydn: Famous Symphonies Vol. 2: Symphonies No. 94 "Surprise", No. 101 "The Clock" and No. 83 "The Hen", played by the Capella Istropolitana under Barry Wordsworth. Naxos 8.550114

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