HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 1-5 (Patrick Gallois/ Sinfonia Finlandia) (Naxos: 8.557571)
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Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphonies Nos. 1-5
Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choirschoolof St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, hesubsequently spent some years earning a living as besthe could from teaching and playing the violin orkeyboard, and was able to profit from association withthe old composer Porpora, whose assistant he became.
Haydn's first appointment was probably as early as1758 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Countvon Morzin, whose kinsman had once served as patronto Vivaldi. This was followed in 1761 by employmentas Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in theEmpire, Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, succeeded afterhis death in 1762 by Prince Nicolaus. On the death in1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructiveKapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had found much tocomplain about in the professionalism of his young andresented deputy, Haydn succeeded to his position, toremain in the same employment, nominally at least, forthe rest of his life.
On the completion of the magnificent palace atEsterhaza in the Hungarian plains under PrinceNicolaus, Haydn assumed command of an increasedmusical establishment. Here he had responsibility forthe musical activities of the palace, which included theprovision and direction of instrumental music, operaand music for the theatre, as well as music for thechurch. For his patron he provided a quantity ofchamber music of all kinds, particularly for the Prince'sown peculiar instrument, the baryton, a bowed stringinstrument with sympathetic strings that could also beplucked.
Prince Nicolaus died in 1790 and Haydn foundhimself able to accept an invitation to visit London.
There he provided music for concert seasons organizedby the violinist-impresario Salomon. A secondsuccessful visit to London in 1794 and 1795 wasfollowed by a return to duty with the Esterhazy family,the new head of which had settled principally at thefamily property in Eisenstadt, where Haydn had startedhis career with them. Much of the year, however, was tobe spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years,dying in 1809, as the French armies of Napoleonapproached the city yet again.
Haydn lived during the period of the eighteenthcentury that saw the development of instrumental musicfrom the age of Bach and Handel to the era of theclassical sonata, with its tripartite first-movement formand complementary two or three further movements,the former the basis now of much instrumentalcomposition. The symphony may claim to have becomethe most important form of orchestral composition andowes a great deal, if not its precise paternity, to Haydn.
He first attempted such composition some time before1759 and wrote his last symphonies for London in thefinal decade of the century.
Haydn probably wrote his Symphony No. 1 in Dmajor in 1758 or 1759 for Count von Morzin, whoemployed a body of musicians at his castle at Lukavec.
The work is scored, like the other symphonies includedhere, for the usual pairs of oboes and horns, and strings,with a bassoon doubling the continuo bass line.
Surviving manuscript parts show that the Lukavecorchestra could muster two desks of first and secondviolins and full details of the fascinating rediscovery ofthese parts is described in detail in the first volume ofC.H.Robbins Landon's definitive work on thecomposer. The symphony begins with an effectsuggesting a device used by the Mannheim composers,an ascending crescendo, forming the first subject. Theshort second subject follows immediately, withtransitional material bringing the necessary modulationto the dominant key, before the relatively shortdevelopment and final recapitulation. The G major slowmovement is scored for strings. The second half of theAndante, brings further rhythmic contrasts, startingwith a return to the main theme, now in D major, andmoving through G minor to its conclusion. Thesymphony ends with a tripartite Presto that opens withan ascending arpeggio figure and includes a briefcentral development.
Symphony No. 2 in C major, No. 5 in Haydn's ownnumbering, has been conjecturally dated to a periodbefore 1761. It again starts with a theme derived fromthe ascending scale, extended before the appearance ofthe G minor second subject. The more expandeddevelopment opens with the first subject now in thedominant major, before the return of the material in thehome key. Oboes and horns are silent in the G majorslow movement, and first and second violins share thecontinuing semiquaver figuration, with the lowerstrings collaborating in the bass line. The work endswith a simple rondo, its main subject serving to frameepisodes 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 ownlisting, has been dated to 1759 or 1760 and represents afurther development in the composer's style. In the firstmovement quaver figuration in the lower partsaccompanies the broad theme announced by oboes andviolins, the former playing an important part in the Dmajor second subject. The invitation to counterpointoffered by the principal theme is taken up in thedevelopment, and the material is further explored in therecapitulation. The G minor second movement, forstrings, brings dialogue between the first and secondviolins, and the following Menuet frames a Trio thatgives full scope to the wind instruments. The symphonyends with a fugue in which the first entries are allmarked pianissimo, a sign of contrapuntal things tocome, culminating over a dominant pedal-point.
Symphony No. 4 in D major, No. 10 in Haydn'snumbering, like the other works here included, belongsto the period the composer spent in the service of Countvon Morzin. The opening of the first movementsummons attention. The second subject, introduced bythe first violin and echoed briefly in the bass, is in Aminor, the dominant major established as the expositioncomes to an end. The central development opens with aversion of the first subject and dwindles to nothingbefore the return of the theme in recapitulation. The Dminor Andante, without oboes and horns, gives thelower strings a steady staccato, while the muted secondviolin offers syncopation and the muted first violin itsown melody. The last movement, a Tempo di Menuetto,combines the tripartite finale form with the rhythm andmood of a minuet, allowing its central section to growsofter before the rousing return of the main theme.
Symphony No. 5 in A major, Haydn's No. 13, datesfrom about 1760 and starts with an Adagio, ma nontroppo, introduced by the strings, before the entry of thehorns in the sixth bar, with the entry of the oboesfurther delayed. The central section is largely entrustedto the strings, with the horns returning to theirdemanding r??le in recapitulation. The followingAllegro allows the violins to introduce the secondsubject, and the development is marked by wide leapsin the first violin, a characteristic effect. The Minuet hasdynamic contrasts and frames a trio that givesprominence to the wind instruments, overaccompanying violin figuration and the plucked notesof the lower strings. Violins alone start the concise finalPresto softly in thematic material interrupted byascending 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