Thursday, December 22, 2005


Haydn: London symphonies---the Joker

The so-called "London" or "Solomon" symphonies, twelve in number, were written for those visits: Nos. 93 to 98 for the first trip, 1791-1793; No. 99 in the interval between the trips; and Nos. 100 to 104 in 1794 and 1795.

The "London" symphonies are particularly rich in humor, and repay the most attentive listening. Unexpected thematic entrances, false recapitulations, pauses, sudden chords, and the like are among the more obvious of Haydn's humorous effects. But he also reveals subtle touches that are sometimes lost in the sheer joy of hearing the music. Irregular phrases and abrupt modulations, sly bits of imitation and irrelevant turns of phrase, brief moments of apparent confusion and sudden mock-serious passages---such devices call forth many an appreciative chuckle. With an effervescent spirit and a quick-wittedness Haydn increasingly animates the fast movements and often the minuets.


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