Haydn: London Symphonies

Haydn: Symphony 104 (“London Symphony”)

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra | Nicholas McGegan | Philharmonia Baroque Productions 2016

This is Haydn’s last symphony, and the last of the series known as the ‘London Symphonies’.  The introduction is a dramatic Adagio, starting with a tonic to dominant interval on all instruments including timpani, sounding very much like a question.  Dynamic changes from ff to pp occur in the space of a single bar.  In contrast, the main section of the first movement starts with quite a light hearted theme in D major.  The second movement has some lovely wind only parts, such as the Più largo section written for flute, two oboes (in thirds) and a bassoon, though these sections are quite short.  The menuetto has a characteristic strong upbeat, slurred to the first beat of the bar.  The Allegro spiritoso finale starts with a pedal note held by the horns and lower strings, and a simple folk-like melody played over the top by the violins.  This movement is in sonata form – however both subjects are based on the same theme, which is played first in D major and then in the dominant, A major.

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