HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 32, 33 and 34 (Cologne Chamber Orchestra/ Helmut Muller-Bruhl) (Naxos: 8.554154)
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Symphonies Nos. 32, 33and 34
Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of awheelwright. 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 playingthe 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 Kapellmeisterto a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in 1761 byemployment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire,Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by his brotherPrince Nikolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructiveKapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in thesame employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.
On the completion, under the new Prince, of the magnificent palace atEsterhaza, built on the site of a former hunting-lodge set on the Hungarianplains, Haydn assumed command of an increased musical establishment. Here hehad responsibility for the musical activities of the palace, which included theprovision and direction of instrumental music, opera and theatre music, andmusic for the church. For his patron he provided a quantity of chamber music ofall 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 aninvitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concerto seasonorganized by the violinist-impresario Solomon. A second successful visit toLondon in 1794 and 1795 was followed by a return to duty with the Esterhazyfamily, the new head of which had settled principally at the family property inEisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career. Much of the year, however, wasto be spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years, dying in 1809, asthe French armies of Napoleon approached the city yet again.
Whether Haydn was the father of the symphony is a question best left tomusical genealogists. His career, however, spanned the period during which theclassical symphony developed as the principal orchestral form. He himselfcertainly played a major part in this development, from his first symphony sometime before 1759 to his final series of symphonies written for the greaterresources of London in 1794 and 1795. The London symphonies were preceded bysimilar works for Paris and a much larger body of compositions of more modestscoring for the orchestra at Esterhaza and at Eisenstadt, many of the lastcalling for a keyboard continuo, at least with the relatively smallernumber of string players available.
It seems that Symphony No. 32 and Symphony No. 33 may bedated to 1760, or thereabouts, to a period when Haydn was employed in Lukavecby Count von Morzin in a musical establishment that was soon to be disbanded.
The first of these is a festive work, in the appropriate key of C major andusing trumpets and drums. It is otherwise scored for the necessary strings,with pairs of oboes and horns, the latter presumably in C alto, and a bassoondoubling the cellos and double bass. The first movement opens in appropriatestyle, with a bright, celebratory first subject, leading to a second subjectthat is at first in G minor. There is a central development, exploring thismaterial and leading to the inevitable recapitulation, the return of theoriginal key and first subject, with the second subject, which has had its turnalready in the development, now omitted. The whole orchestra continues with theMinuet, with its C minor Trio for strings alone. This is followedby the slow movement, marked Adagio ma non troppo, an F major movementscored only for strings. Wind instruments return for the final Presto, ina forceful and triumphant 3/8, a briefer version of the tripartite form thathad marked the first movement.
Symphony No. 33, in C major and similarly scored, also belongs to Haydn's periodof employment under Count von Morzin. The celebratory mood of the work echoesthat of its immediate numerical predecessor, opening with a movement in 3/4,marked Vivace. There is a more varied and extended second subject, in Gmajor, the key in which the development begins, with its reminiscence of thefirst theme and inventive writing in the music that follows, with an element ofsurprise in an anticipation of the recapitulation, before the proper return ofthe first subject and material of the initial exposition. The second movement,marked Andante, is in C minor and scored for strings only, for a timeusing a sparer two-part texture. The Minuet, for the whole orchestra,frames a softer Trio in F major, scored for strings. The windinstruments return for the final Allegro, now in a fuller tripartitesonata-form.
Symphony No. 34 in D minor belongs to a slightly later period, probably1765, when Haydn was in Eisenstadt in the service of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy.
The work, perhaps the earliest of Haydn's symphonies to be in a minor key, isscored for two oboes, bassoon, two horns in D and strings, and follows thepattern of a church sonata with an opening slow movement, here marked Adagio.
This movement, imbued with melancholy, is followed by a cheerful D major Allegro,with wide spacing in the first subject for first violins and a secondsubject that brings prominence to the oboes, material much abbreviated in itsfinal appearance in the recapitulation. The same key continues in the Minuet,marked Moderato, and Trio, the latter allowing the windinstruments to assume greater importance. Triplet rhythms mark the thematicmaterial that introduces the final Presto assai, with its centralpassage in the tonic minor key.