PROGRAMME NOTES JOSEPH HAYDN (1732–1809)
SYMPHONY NO.49, LA PASSIONE (1768) i. Adagio ii Allegro di molto iii Menuet e Trio iv Finale. Presto
aydn spent most of his creative life in isolation away from the bright lights of Vienna, working for the Esterházy family at their magnificent palace in Austro-Hungary. ‘I was cut off from the world,’ he declared passionately. ‘There was no one near to torment me or make me doubt myself, and so I had to become original.’ Far from becoming another in the long line of dutiful court composers, Haydn established an international reputation as the ‘father’ of 107 symphonies, the creator of the modern string quartet (83 in total), and the astonishingly fertile composer of 45 piano trios, 62 piano sonatas, 14 masses and 26 operas, among countless other scores.
crucial importance, with its love of dramatic contrast and experimental interplay of tonal areas. So too the concerto grosso, whose special feature was the contrast between solo and tutti passages, and the relatively light-hearted serenade. These various musical ingredients were absorbed by Haydn’s insatiable creative personality, characterised by his delight in rusticity, his revelling in the unexpected, his tongue-in-cheek musical ‘jokes’ for the special appreciation of the cognoscenti, his dabbling in unusual instrumental combinations and colours, and unrivalled flexibility with form and design. If Haydn’s early symphonies find him experimenting gleefully with the possibilities thrown up by the fledgling genre, by the late 1760s he had begun composing with a searing intensity of expression that contemporary writers referred to as Sturm und Drang (storm and stress). In 1768 alone, Haydn composed the Lamentatione (No.26), Trauer (No.44) and La Passione (No.49) symphonies, all in the minor mode and imbued from time to time with a sense of inconsolable despair.
La Passione – the nickname originated in 1790s Vienna – looks both backwards in construction to the slow–fast–slow–fast Baroque sonata da chiesa and forwards in emotional content to the Romantic era. Opening with a worldweary Adagio, whose influence can be felt resonating well over a century later in the music of Mahler and Barber, Haydn then storms away with a dramatic allegro of hurtling forward momentum. A stern minuet offers little in the way of consolation before the presto finale lacerates 18th-century sensibilities Several important elements helped Haydn forge his symphonic style. Firstly, the prevailing with an on-rush of high-voltage intensity. gallant mode of expression, with its propensity for formal balance, grace and symmetry; also the world of opera, from which Haydn borrowed the structure of the traditional overture, as well as passages reminiscent of arias, recitative and blustering buffo finales. The early Viennese symphony was also of
Programme for the OAE's performance at the Royal Festival Hall on 18 April 2017.