HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 45, 94 and 101 (Barry Wordsworth/ Capella Istropolitana/ Karol Kopernicky) (Naxos: 8.553222)
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Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Symphony No.45 in F Sharp Minor "Farewell"
Symphony No.94 in G Major "Surprise"
Symphony No.101 in D Major "The Clock"
Joseph Haydn was as prolific as any eighteenth century composer, hisfecundity a matter, in good part, of the nature of his employment and the lengthof his life. Born in 1732 in the village of Rohrau, the son of a wheelwright, hewas recruited to the choir of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna at the age ofeight, later earning a living as best he could as a musician in the capital andmaking useful acquaintances through his association with Metastasio, the CourtPoet, and the composer Nicola Porpora.
In 1759, after some eight years of teaching and free-lance performance,whether as violinist or keyboard-player, Haydn found greater security in aposition in the household of Count Morzin as director of music, wintering inVienna and spending the summer on the Count's estate in Bohemia, where anorchestra was available. In 1760 Haydn married the eldest daughter of awig-maker, a match that was to bring him no great solace, and by the followingyear he had entered the service of Prince Paul Anton Esterazy as deputy to theold Kapellmeister Gregor Werner, who had much fault to find with his youngcolleague. In 1762 Prince Paul Anton died and was succeeded by his brotherPrince Nikolaus, who concerned himself with the building of the great palace ofEsteraza. In 1766 Werner died, and Haydn assumed the full duties ofKapellmeister, spending the larger part of the year at Esterhaza and part ofthe winter at Eisenstadt, where his first years of service to the Esterhazyfamily had passed.
Haydn's responsibilities at Esterhaza were manifold. As Kapellmeister he wasin full charge of the musicians employed by the prince, writing music of allkinds, and directing performances both instrumental and operatic. This busy ifisolated career came to an end with the death of Prince Nikolausin 1790. Fromthen onwards Haydn had greater freedom, while continuing to enjoy the title andemoluments of his position as Kapellmeister to the Prince's successors.
Haydn's release from his immediate responsibilities allowed him, in 1791, toaccept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concertsorganised by the German-born violinist Johann Peter Salomon. His considerablesuccess led to a second visit in 1794. The following year, at the request of thenew Prince Esterhazy, who had succeeded his elder brother in 1794, he resumedsome of his earlier duties as Kapelhneister, now in Eisenstadt and in Vienna,where he took up his own residence until his death in 1809
Haydn's Farewell Symphony was written in 1772, occasioned bythe prolonged stay of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy at his Hungarian palace. Someof the musicians had been compelled to leave their wives behind in Eisenstadtwhen the Prince took up his summer residence. The Symphony, in the finalAdagio of which the musicians leave one by one, was intended as a delicate hintthat the time had come to return to Eisenstadt, although some contemporarysources suggest that the subject of complaint was the possible reduction of themusical establishment.
The Symphony, in the key of F sharp minor, is scored for the usualEsterhaza forces of pairs of oboes and horns, bassoon and strings. The firstmovement opens with the principal theme, descending arpeggios played by thefirst violins against sustained wind chords and the urgent syncopation of thesecond violins. Sonata form is treated with considerable freedom, the secondsubject making its D major appearance in the development and the followingrecapitulation inviting an unusual further development of the principal theme.
The A major second movement allows muted violins to announce the main theme, thewind having very little to add during the course of the movement. An F sharpmajor Minuet follows, with a Trio that allows the French horns momentaryprominence. This leads to a finale that modulates to introduce the unexpectedslow conclusion, in which player after player leaves the platform, until onlytwo muted violins are left.
In 1791, six new symphonies were to be provided for the subscription concertsorganised by Salomon at the Hanover Square Rooms. Symphony No. 94 was tobe performed at a concert on 23rd March, 1792, the sixth of the new series, andproved to have an enduring popularity. The first movement opens with a slowintroduction, followed by a gentle enough first subject and a double secondsubject. The well known C major slow movement provides the surprise of a suddenburst of sound, interrupting the steady progress of the melody, which is thenvaried. The Minuet is much quicker than is usually the case, its Trio openingwith first violins and bassoon in octaves. The finale is launched, as usual, bythe strings, with a cheerful first subject, succeeded by a contrasting secondsubject in sonata form.
Symphony No.101 belongs to the group of six symphonies written forHaydn's second visit to London in 1794. It was played there at a concert on 3rdMarch, followed by operatic songs, a performance by Viotti of a violin concertoand by Fiorillo of a Chaconne. Again, as with most of the London symphonies,there is a slow introduction, this time in D minor, an eerie preface to a brightD major movement from which the symphony derives its nickname, The Clock, itssource the accompanying figure with which the movement opens. The Minuet returnsfrom G major to the key of D major, its Trio providing a lop-sided clockaccompaniment to the initial flute melody. The symphony ends with a finale inwhich the second subject is a clear variant of the first. There is a D minorsection, replaced by the major key to bring the work to a dramatic conclusion.
The Capella Istropolitana was founded in 1983 by members of the SlovakPhilharmonic Orchestra, at first as a chamber orchestra and then as an orchestralarge enough to tackle the standard classical repertoire. Based in Bratislava,its name drawn from the ancient name still preserved in the AcademiaIstropolitana, the orchestra works in the recording studio and undertakesfrequent tours throughout Europe. Recordings by the orchestra on the Naxos labelinclude The Best of Baroque Music, Bach's Brandenburg Concertos,fifteen each of Mozart's and Haydn's symphonies as well as works by Handel,Vivaldi and Telemann.
Barry Wordsworth's career has been dominated by his work for the Royal Balletwhich started when he played the solo part in Frank Martin's HarpsichordConcerto, a score used by Sir Kenneth MacMillan for his ballet, Las Hermanas. In1973 he became Assistant Conductor of the Royal Ballet's Touring Orchestra andin 1974 Principal Conductor of Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet.
In 1987 while retaining his connection with both Royal Ballet companies asguest conductor, Barry Wordsworth also worked with the Royal LiverpoolPhilharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, the UlsterOrchestra, the BBC Concert and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. For the Naxoslabel Wordsworth has recorded a numberof Mozart and Haydn symphonies, works by Smetana and Dvořak and for theMarco Polo label works by Bax.