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JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)

Let’s give a look today to Haydn’s symphonic output. We cannot realistically encompass all his production in one entry but we can look at works composed at different eras.  The real starting point of his symphonic career is the Matin-midi-soir (morning, noon, evening or 6,7,8) triptych composed in 1761.  They are in part remnants of the baroque period (a concerto grosso structure) and look like proto sinfonias concertantes, especially the morning and the noon one (the evening is closer to your typical classical symphony).

From the excellent Freiburg Baroque Orchestra CD, on Harmonia Mundi label, the 1st movement of the symphony 7 “Midi”

Symphony no 7 in C major: I- Adagio – allegro (play or download)

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The symphonic halfway between the numbers 6,7,8 and the London Twelve is not as clear as those two sets. Any symphony from the late 1770s/early 1780s could be plugged in here. I selected a relatively unknown one, the 75th, created in 1779. It comes before the trio of 76,77 and 78, composed specifically for the edition market, and before the famous symphony no 73 “La Chasse” with its blasting finale. But the 75th symphony has its own qualities. The great performance by the Heidelburg Symphony Orchestra, leaded by Thomas Fey on Hänssler Classic, makes it an enjoyable listening.

Symphony no 75 in D major: Grave – Presto (play or download)

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Musicweb

The twelve London symphonies are Haydn at his best. Not only they show diversity but they keep a high level of quality, complexity and humor. In my opinion, the finale from the symphony no 104, nicknamed “London” and composed in 1795, is the best in the series. It has a catchy theme, possibly of Croatian origin, and is highly energetic. The Orchestra of the 18th Century, under Frans Brüggen, delivers a great performance on this Philips Classics double CD (good value here).

Symphony no 104 ‘London’ in D major: Finale (spirito) (play or download)

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JOSEPH HAYDN (1732-1809)

Highly rated composer, Joseph Haydn still remains, in my opinion, underrated compared to Mozart and/or Beethoven. He is, with Handel (and maybe Beethoven), my favorite composer. It will be impossible to sum up all his production within a few posts this week. Like last week for Boccherini, famously nicknamed the Haydn’s wife,  I intend to look here and there at his instrumental and vocal music.

Keen businessman, modest and having a strong humor, Haydn worked from 1761 to his death for the Esterhazy princes, especially under Nikolaus “The Magnificent” (1762-1790). He is mostly known for is symphonies, string quartets, masses and oratorios.

Scena di Berenice (“Berenice, che fai”)

Composed in 1795 for the singer Brigida Banti, the scena (with recitatives and two arias) is considered one of Haydn’s most accomplished dramatic work. Berenice laments her fate after being abandoned by her lover Demetrio. After she describes her woeful state in a recitative, Berenice sings an aria begging Demetrio not to die without her. Her grief continues to grow in another recitative and aria, where she prays that it finally become so great as to “relieve her of life.” Berenice, che fai was premiered (along with Haydn’s Symphony No. 104) on 4 May 1795 at a concert for Haydn’s benefit.

Rene Jacobs and the Freiburger Barockorchester (and Bernarda Fink!) on Harmonia Mundi label, recorded a great version of it. It lasts more than 11 minutes but it is really worthy. The full libretto is available here (no translation alas).

Scena di Berenice (play or download)

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Sources for this post

Michael Ruhling, “Haydn in London”, Handel and Haydn Society Program Notes

Marc Vignal, Joseph Haydn, [Paris], Fayard, 1988, p. 467-468, 1227-1228. (French)

Wikipedia

Parisian Quartets

We are still on Luigi Boccherini. This time, let’s give a quick look to his chamber music. First, an excerpt from the “Musica Notturna di Madrid” Quintet (1780), which was heard in the Master and Commander movie. Then, two movements from the Guitar Quintet no 1 op. 57, published in 1799 in Paris.

Le Concert des nations / Jordi Savall / Alia Vox

Quintet in C major: Passa calle (allegro vivo)

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La Magnifica Communità / Eros Roselli, guitar / Brilliant Classics

Quintet no 1 in D minor: Minuetto

Quintet no 1 in D minor: Allegro assai

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Online review

All Music Guide

Another hidden gem. This time, I rather explore with you an unknown work from a famous composer: The Paris Quartets by Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767).

Actually, the name was falsely attributed since they were not edited in Paris or intended for this market at first (The edition name was Quadri a Violino, Flauto traversiere, Viola di gamba o Violoncello, e Fondamento […], not very french). However, they quickly reached Paris and became very popular there. In 1737, Telemann went in the french capital for a 8 months trip and published there a new series of quartets, usually refered to the Paris Quartets no 7 to 12.

For this entry, I will offer you a few samples of a nice CD including the (false) Paris Quartets (nos 1 to 6) played by the Freiburger BarockConsort, on Harmonia Mundi label. Really lovely little jewels.

Concerto Primo in G major: Grave-allegro

Concerto Primo in G major: Allegro

Sonata Prima in A major: Soave

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Sources for this post

Andreas Friesenhagen, notes from the Quatuors Parisiens CD

Wikipedia


Today, let’s give a look to Luigi Boccherini, the symphonist. The most known is  the symphony “la Casa del diavolo” op. 12 (1771), from which I will offer a good version from Europa Galante/Biondi CD. But first, a few samples from two excellent symphonies CDs:

Le Concert des nations/ Jordi Savall / Alia Vox

Symphony in D minor “a più strumenti obbligati” op. 37 no 3 (1787): Allegro moderato

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Alia Vox

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Online reviews

Classics Today

All Music Guide

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin / Harmonia Mundi

Symphony  no 26 in  C minor: II- Pastorale lentarello

Symphony no 27 in D major:  IV- Finale (presto)

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And now, the Europa Galante version of “la Casa del diavolo”‘s 3rd movement. After a slow start, the devil is in the house!

LUIGI BOCCHERINI, 1743-1805

Luigi Boccherini is known for his chamber music (quartets and quintets), who is the core of his production . But this composer of talent created also fabulous cello concerti and interesting symphonies as well.

Born in Lucca, in 1743, Boccherini was an accomplished cellist who  received his compositional teaching in Rome. He worked then in Vienna (Burgtheater), Lucca and Paris but mostly, from 1768 to his death, in Spain, thanks to the patronage of Don Luis Infante (1770-1785) and Friedrich Wilhelm II (1786-1797), King of Prussia.

To start this Boccherini week, I will introduce you to excerpts from his cello concerti, a set of twelve composed during 1760’s and early 1770’s.

Cello concerto no 5 in E flat major: Allegro

Cello concerto no 11 in C major: Largo cantabile

Cello concerto no 10 in D major: Allegro e con moto

Accademia Filarmonice Verona / Bronzi / Brilliant Classics

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Arkiv Music

Source for this post

Wikipedia (french and english versions)

A Special Demand

To a certain forum member who asked to put some Johann Sebastian Bach‘s music, here are some, Money…😉

From the excellent Brandenburg Concertos CD by the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, one of my favorite orchestras (Harmonia Mundi Label):

Concerto no 3 in G major, III- Allegro assai

Concerto no 6 in B flat major: I- Moderato

Concerto no 4 in G major: I-Allegro

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Harmonia Mundi (new release in 2010)

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