HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 64, 84 and 90 (Bela Drahos/ Ibolya Toth/ Nicolaus Esterhazy Sinfonia) (Naxos: 8.550770)
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Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Symphony No.64 in A Major "Tempora mutantur"
Symphony No.84 in E Flat Major
Symphony No.90 in C Major
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 asKapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in theEmpire, Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by hisbrother Prince Nikolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhatobstructive Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, toremain in the same 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 he hadresponsibility 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, abowed 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 concert seasonorganized by the violinist-impresario Salomon. 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, as theFrench 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 smaller number ofstring players available.
Symphony No.64 in A major is now known to have been written about 1773.
The strange title "Tempora mutantur" is found on the survivingauthentic manuscript parts of the symphony. The quotation itself is well enoughknown - "Tempora mutantur, et nos in illis" (Times change and wechange with the times) - but its precise relevance to the present symphony isnot clear. Scored for the usual pairs of oboes and horns, with a bassoondoubling the lowest string part, the work opens with a softly questioningphrase, completed loudly by the whole orchestra, the melodic completion in thelower string parts. The question is repeated slightly louder, and answered atfirst equally softly by the violas, before the entry again of the wholeorchestra, the answering melodic figure then made much of in the modulation to asecond subject. Various elements from the exposition re-appear in the centraldevelopment, while the recapitulation that follows at first allows the oboes afairer share of the melodic material. Muted violins carry the burden of the Dmajor slow movement in material that is repeated, framing a central section inwhich the wind instruments play some part, as the oboes do when the hymn-likeprincipal theme returns for the last time. The Minuet makes use of a rhythmicfigure variously attributed to Scotland and to Hungary, with a Trio marked bythe wide leaps of the violin parts. The principal theme of the last movement,entrusted to the first violins, re-appears in the dominant key, before returningin A major to usher in a dramatic excursion into the key of F sharp minor. Thesame principal theme forms a whispered preface to the final emphatic ending ofthe symphony.
Haydn's Symphony No.84 in E flat major is the third of a set of sixwritten for Paris. The Paris Symphonies were commissioned by the youngComte d'Ogny, Claude-Fran?ºois-Marie Rigoley, for the Concert de la Logeolympique, a masonic organization .The orchestra for which Haydn was writing wasa large one, with forty violins, as opposed to the mere eleven available atEsterhaza, and ten double basses. It was rumoured that the players themselveswere all freemasons, as well as the Count himself and, presumably, the greaterpart of the audience at these fashionable concerts. The new symphonies werewelcomed enthusiastically in Paris, where Haydn was already held in the highestesteem. The symphony, written in 1786 and first performed in Paris the followingyear, is scored for a single flute, with pairs of oboes, bassoons and horns,with strings, the double bass here distinguished from the cello part in passagesof the first movement. There is a slow introduction to the symphony, played bythe whole orchestra, followed by an Allegro in which the strings are entrustedwith the first subject, completed by the full orchestra, before the flute joinsin the theme. Oboes and bassoons together introduce the related second subject,and elements of this material are exploited in the central development, beforethe return of the first subject in its original key, followed by the secondsubject, in which oboes and bassoons have the assistance of the two horns. The Bfiat major slow movement consists of a theme and variations, the first of thesein the tonic minor, to be ornamented in a major key second variation by thestrings, who had first stated the theme. The lower register instruments add alivelier accompaniment to the variation that follows. The last variationincludes a canonic treatment of the theme, with instruments coming in one afterthe other, the plucked strings entering with the bassoons. The Minuet and Trioduly appear, the latter particularly interesting in its handling of instrumentalcolour, as is the cheerful and inventive Finale.
Symphony No.90 in C major also seems to have been written in response to acommission from the Comte d'Ogny for three symphonies, at the same timefulfilling are quest for three symphonies from a Bavarian patron, Prince KrafftErnst von Oettingen-Wallenstein. The symphony was composed in 1788 and issimilar in scoring to Symphony No.84, although surviving sources suggestthat, while Esterhaza was able to provide horn-players able to cope withinstruments in high C (C alto), Paris would have made use of trumpets andtimpani, with horn-players tackling the easier lower C (C basso) horn parts.
There is a slow introduction to the symphony, thematically related to theAllegro assai that follows. The second subject is unexpectedly introduced by thesolo flute, with a reduced string accompaniment, the melody then taken up by theoboe. The flute and oboe have an F major version of this material in the courseof the central development, while the oboe restates the second subject in thefinal recapitulation, followed by the flute in a higher register. The F majorslow movement has