HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 45, 48 and 102 (Barry Wordsworth/ Capella Istropolitana/ Hubert Geschwandtner) (Naxos: 8.550382)
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Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Symphony No.45 in F Sharp Minor"Farewell"
Symphony No.48 in C Major "MariaTheresia"
Symphony No.102 in B Flat Major
Joseph Haydn was as prolific as anyeighteenth century composer, his fecundity a matter, in good part, of thenature of his employment and the length of his life. Born in 1732 in thevillage of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright, he was recruited to the choir ofSI. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna at the age of eight, later earning a livingas best he could as a musician in the capital and making useful acquaintancesthrough his association with Metastasio, the Court Poet, and the composerNicola Porpora.
In 1759, after some eight years ofteaching and free-lance performance, whether as violinist or keyboard-player,Haydn found greater security in a position in the household of Count Morzin asdirector of music, wintering in Vienna and spending the summer on the Count'sestate in Bohemia, where an orchestra was available. In 1760 Haydn married theeldest daughter of a wig- maker, a match that was to bring him no great solace,and by the following year he had entered the service of Prince Paul AntonEsterhazy as deputy to the old Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had much faultto find with his young colleague. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton died and wassucceeded by his brother Prince Nikolaus, who concerned himself with thebuilding of the great palace of Esterhaza. In 1766 Werner died, and Haydnassumed the full duties of Kapellmeister, spending the larger part of the yearat Esterhaza and part of the winter at Eisenstadt, where his first years ofservice to the Esterhazy family had passed.
Haydn's responsibilities at Esterhazawere manifold. As Kapellmeister he was in full charge of the musicians employedby the prince, writing music of all kinds, and directing performances bothinstrumental and operatic. This busy if isolated career came to an end with thedeath of Prince Nikolaus in 1790. From then onwards Haydn had greater freedom,while continuing to enjoy the title and emoluments of his position asKapellmeister to the Prince's successors.
Haydn's release from his immediateresponsibilities allowed him, in 1791, to accept an invitation to visit London,where he provided music for the concerts organised by Johann Peter Salomon. Hisconsiderable success led to a second visit in 1794. The following year, at therequest of the new Prince Esterhazy, who had succeeded his elder brother in1794, he resumed some of his earlier duties as Kapellmeister, now in Eisenstadtand in Vienna, where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809.
Haydn's Farewell Symphony was written in1772, occasioned by the prolonged stay of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy at hisHungarian palace. Some of the musicians had been compelled to leave their wivesbehind in Eisenstadt when the Prince took up his summer residence. TheSymphony, in the final Adagio of which the musicians leave one by one, wasintended as a delicate hint that the time had come to return to Eisenstadt,although some contemporary sources suggest that the subject of complaint wasthe possible reduction of the musical establishment.
The Symphony, in the key of F sharpminor, is scored for the usual Esterhaza forces of pairs of oboes and horns,bassoon and strings. The first movement opens with the principal theme,descending arpeggios played by the first violins against sustained wind chordsand the urgent syncopation of the second violins. Sonata form is treated withconsiderable freedom, the second subject making its D major appearance in thedevelopment and the following recapitulation inviting an unusual furtherdevelopment of the principal theme. The A major second movement allows mutedviolins to announce the main theme, the wind having very little to add duringthe course of the movement. An F sharp major Minuet follows, with a Trio thatallows the French horns momentary prominence. This leads to a finale thatmodulates to introduce the unexpected slow conclusion, in which player afterplayer leaves the platform, until only two muted violins are left.
It was once thought that Haydn wrote andperformed his Symphony No.48 for the Empress Maria Theresia on theoccasion of her visit to the palace of Esterhaza in 1773. Haydn and hismusicians performed for her in Chinese costume, however little sign there mayhave been of musical chinoiserie. In fact the Symphony in C major waswritten in 1769, and may have been heard by the Empress during a visit toPressburg (Bratislava) or on another occasion at Kittsee. For whatever reason itcontinues to bear her name.
The symphony opens with some brilliance,as the wind calls our attention. The first violin bears the brunt of the secondtheme and there is a dramatic development, before the principal theme returns.
The F major slow movement, a moving Adagio, is entrusted principally to thestrings, followed by a bold Minuet and a C minor Trio. The finale continues thegeneral brilliance of a symphony that won great popularity and certainlydeserves its imperial title.
Haydn's first visit to England had takenplace in 1791. His reputation in London was already very considerable and hispersonal appearance directing his new symphonies from the keyboard at theHanover Square Rooms was an immense success. In 1794 he returned to Englandonce more, again at the invitation of Salomon, who had commissioned a furtherset of six symphonies. The Symphony No.102 in B flat major served toopen the second half of the first of the Opera Concerts, held in the King'sTheatre in 1795. It was allegedly during the last movement of the symphony thata chandelier fell to the ground, causing little injury, since members of theaudience in the parterre had pressed forward to see Haydn. The story, whetherapocryphal or not, attached itself to another symphony, known from thisincident as The Miracle.
The first movement opens with a slowintroduction, followed by a lively theme played by the first violins, echoed bythe flute, and a second subject of marked contrast, material that is used inthe opening of the central development section, where the first subject is toreturn in the key of C, before the music moves forward to the B flatrecapitulation. The F major Adagio includes muted trumpets and drums in itsscoring and is in the form of variations that have all the feeling ofimprovisation. The familiar Minuet, its Trio opened by oboe and bassoon inoctaves, is followed by a final rondo dominated by the theme announced in thefirst bars by the violins, a further testimony to the composer's humour andimagination.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in1983 by members of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamberorchestra and then as an orchestra large enough to tackle the standardclassical repertoire. Based in Bratislava, its name drawn from the ancient namestill preserved in the Academia Istropolitana, the orchestra works in therecording studio and undertakes frequent tours throughout Europe. Recordings bythe orchestra on the Naxos label Include The Best of Baroque Music, Bach'sBrandenburg Concertos, fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as wellas works by Handel, Vivaldi and Telemann.
Barry Wordsworth's career has beendominated by his work for the Royal Ballet which started when he played thesolo part in Frank Martin's Harpsichord Concerto, a score used by Sir KennethMacMillan for his ballet, Las Hermanas. In 1973 he became AssistantConductor of the Royal Ballet's Touring Orchestra an