HAYDN: 10 GREAT SYMPHONIES - Ernst Marzendorfer, Vienna Chamber Orchestra

EXPLORING MUSIC: PICK A SYMPHONY, ANY SYMPHONY

PICK A SYMPHONY, ANY SYMPHONY

by David White

My personal journey to Haydn began many years ago, but I never considered him a “top rank” obsessions. I do that with music, I don’t just delve, and dip, like we’re at some kind of musical buffet and we’re all grabbing plates and heaping a bit of this and a bit of that. I obsess - or certainly, I obsessed in my younger years when obsessing and absorbing were inextricable. 

 

Upon my graduation from college came the real moments of musical obsession. Freed from assignments, I devoured music based on my own choice and my own tastes, and went through a selection of music ranging from Bach on piano to Ray Charles, 1950s and 1960s R&B, Broadway cast recordings and Franz Schubert (a major obsession). As I moved on and put away my youthful toys, I did have this stubborn idea in my head that one day I’d be knowledgable about Haydn’s symphonies. 

 

Why - well, for no other reason that I never recall having heard one and not gone away very impressed. Sometimes with melody, almost always with construction. And the fact that he wrote 107 of them...some folks like Bach cantatas, I liked the Everest of Haydn’s symphonic works.

 

So my personal journey hit a difficult stretch, and I was left in a space with loads of time but nowhere to go. And I was given the task of reworking the MHS Haydn symphony cycle with Ernst Marzendorfer conducting the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. So I worked and to do the massive “quality control”, I decided the time had come and I would get all 104 into my brain. 

 

Three years has passed, and not only have the Marzendorfer recordings passed from our digital workstation to the world via streaming services, but I continue to listen to that cycle and a variety of other recordings - in fact, in Spotify’s very fun year end round up, I was named a Haydn “superfan”, averaging more listens to Haydn than 99.64% of Spotify listeners. I think that means it’s me and some guy in a library in Vienna whose JOB it is to listen to Haydn all day vying for the #1 spot. 

 

So you’re getting MY choices for 10 great Haydn symphonies - expertly chosen by someone that Spotify’s algorithms have identified as someone who badly needs to turn off the music and do something else. 

 

Much of my life has been spent trying to assist people who were trying to gain a foothold in understanding classical music. It’s not really that difficult - or it shouldn’t be - but occasionally folks do get caught up because they somehow don’t want to get caught listening to the “wrong” recording. I suppose it’s the same fear you have in buying a cheap bottle of wine and you hope it’s not vinegar but you really hope it’s darn good. 

 

And Haydn needs a marketing consultant - at the beginning of the post World War II Haydn revolution, Haydn’s symphonies that didn’t begin with very high numbers were generally neglected. It was some deep pool that was dark and a tad frightening - but as scholarship zoomed along, that pool was found to be even more refreshing than the more famous, older pool. And so the symphonies number 1-79 don’t get as much attention, but they DO offer just as much pleasure. And I’ll fight to my dying day over that.

 

But you can’t deny that there’s great stuff in the 80-104 markings, so we do have 4 symphonies from the last 25. Ah - the bad attempts at Haydn marketing have centered around the usually incorrect nicknames that some of these symphonies have. It would be a great help if they ALL had nicknames, but the named symphonies are easier to find, so you can’t deny that is a factor. To be honest, of the 10 I’ve chosen, only 2 are “nameless” and they are, in fact, my favorites, but nameless Haydn symphonies are like small college basketball teams during March Madness. Nobody knows them until you see them play a big name team. But suddenly...they’re just as good, if not better.

 

Symphony No. 78 is this writer’s favorite - a combination of dazzling virtuosic writing, with loads of wit and beautiful melody. It’s like a perfect sit-com episode, it’s rolls through with surprises and laughs, and it doesn’t linger too long...but at the end your response is, wow, that was good.

 

Symphony No 52 I included because my personal guide in my early days of Haydn was the scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, and he wrote that he considered Symphony No. 52 the best of Haydn’s middle years, the “Sturm und Drang” phase. I am on the fence, but include it for your pleasure.

 

Heading back up the hill to the post 80 symphonies, there’s one symphony from the “Paris” symphonies, which is my favorite collection of symphonies (hey - you can download all 6 on sale right now, which I would also suggest). I honestly put in La Reine because it won the “eeny-meeny” between “La Reine” and “L’Ours”, both of which I enjoy equally.

 

Three selections from the “London” symphonies? Most music listeners of a variety of skill levels prefer the “London” symphonies. They show Haydn at his “showiest”, combining a high wire act of fantatic entertaiment skill with his ability to write for a large orchestral ensemble. But I find them a tad lacking in his quicksilver imagination, a trait I return to often but heading back into my personal safety zone of Nos. 22 - 88. However, I say this in complete understanding that I might be the ONLY person who thinks this. These symphonies are like big Hollywood blockbusters - they deliver, and you enjoy the popcorn at the same time.

 

Ah...and I’ve reached back WAY back. Haydn’s “Le Matin” symphony established him at the court of Esterhazy as a young man of serious talent and this symphony does set the stage for the use of a symphony as an important means of artistic expression. And No. 22 takes that promise and wildly raised the bar - by breaking all the rules young Haydn set up in the previous collections, and establishing a newer planet for us all to discover.

 

OUR REVIEW

We weren't kidding - there really isn't a bad one in the bunch. A fanboy like me would be tempted to say that about all 107, but some of the very early symphonies are good for background, and that's about it. Download it - and savor it over a period of time. It's a great musical gift to yourself. --David White

TRACK LISTING

Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Hob. I.6 "Le Matin"

I. Adagio; Allegro 05:39
II. Adagio 08:49
III. Minuetto 04:21
IV. Finale. Allegro 04:32


75 Symphony No. 22 in E-flat Major, Hob. I.22 "The Philosopher"

I. Adagio 06:19
II. Presto 04:35
IIa. Andante grazioso (Venier version, possibly not by Haydn) 02:22
IV. Minuet & Trio 03:18
V. Finale. Presto 03:19


Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp Minor, Hob. I.45 "Farewell"

I. Allegro assai 05:43
II. Adagio 07:50
III. Minuet. Allegretto - Trio 04:23
IV. Finale. Presto - Adagio 08:50

Symphony No. 52 in C Minor, Hob. I.52

I. Allegro assai con brio 06:05
II. Andante 07:32
III. Minuet - Trio 03:25
IV. Finale. Presto 03:39


Symphony No. 63 in C Major, Hob. I.63 "La Roxelane"

I. Allegro 07:51
II. La Roxelane. Allegretto più tosto allegro 05:59
III. Minuetto (alternative version) 03:52
IV. Finale. Presto (alternative version) 03:42


Symphony No. 78 in C Minor, Hob. I.78

I. Vivace 05:28
II. Adagio 08:48
III. Minuetto. Allegretto 04:02
IV. FInale. Presto 04:27

Symphony No. 85 in B-flat Major, Hob. I.85 "La Reine"

I. Adagio; Vivace 07:13
II. Romance: Allegretto 07:33
III. Minuetto: Allegretto 04:51
IV. Finale: Presto 03:19


Symphony No. 93 in D Major, Hob. I.93

I. Adagio; Allegro assai 06:54
II. Largo cantabile 04:56
III. Minuetto: Allegro 04:02
IV. Finale: Presto, ma non troppo 04:46


Symphony No. 96 in D Major, Hob. I.96 "Miracle"

I. Adagio; Allegro 06:38
II. Andante 07:18
III. Minuetto 05:25
IV. Finale 03:36


Symphony No. 104 in D Major, Hob. I.104 "London"

I. Adagio; Allegro 09:03
II. Andante 09:03
III. Minuetto 04:19
IV. Finale 06:29

 

HAYDN: 10 GREAT SYMPHONIES - Ernst Marzendorfer, Vienna Chamber Orchestra

EXPLORING MUSIC

PICK A SYMPHONY, ANY SYMPHONY

by David White

My personal journey to Haydn began many years ago, but I never considered him a “top rank” obsessions. I do that with music, I don’t just delve, and dip, like we’re at some kind of musical buffet and we’re all grabbing plates and heaping a bit of this and a bit of that. I obsess - or certainly, I obsessed in my younger years when obsessing and absorbing were inextricable. 

 

Upon my graduation from college came the real moments of musical obsession. Freed from assignments, I devoured music based on my own choice and my own tastes, and went through a selection of music ranging from Bach on piano to Ray Charles, 1950s and 1960s R&B, Broadway cast recordings and Franz Schubert (a major obsession). As I moved on and put away my youthful toys, I did have this stubborn idea in my head that one day I’d be knowledgable about Haydn’s symphonies. Why - well, for no other reason that I never recall having heard one and not gone away very impressed. Sometimes with melody, almost always with construction. And the fact that he wrote 107 of them...some folks like Bach cantatas, I liked the Everest of Haydn’s symphonic works. 

 

So my personal journey hit a difficult stretch, and I was left in a space with loads of time but nowhere to go. And I was given the task of reworking the MHS Haydn symphony cycle with Ernst Marzendorfer conducting the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. So I worked and to do the massive “quality control”, I decided the time had come and I would get all 104 into my brain. Three years has passed, and not only have the Marzendorfer recordings passed from our digital workstation to the world via streaming services, but I continue to listen to that cycle and a variety of other recordings - in fact, in Spotify’s very fun year end round up, I was named a Haydn “superfan”, averaging more listens to Haydn than 99.64% of Spotify listeners. I think that means it’s me and some guy in a library in Vienna whose JOB it is to listen to Haydn all day vying for the #1 spot. 

 

So you’re getting MY choices for 10 great Haydn symphonies - expertly chosen by someone that Spotify’s algorithms have identified as someone who badly needs to turn off the music and do something else. 

 

Much of my life has been spent trying to assist people who were trying to gain a foothold in understanding classical music. It’s not really that difficult - or it shouldn’t be - but occasionally folks do get caught up because they somehow don’t want to get caught listening to the “wrong” recording. I suppose it’s the same fear you have in buying a cheap bottle of wine and you hope it’s not vinegar but you really hope it’s darn good. 

 

And Haydn needs a marketing consultant - at the beginning of the post World War II Haydn revolution, Haydn’s symphonies that didn’t begin with very high numbers were generally neglected. It was some deep pool that was dark and a tad frightening - but as scholarship zoomed along, that pool was found to be even more refreshing than the more famous, older pool. And so the symphonies number 1-79 don’t get as much attention, but they DO offer just as much pleasure. And I’ll fight to my dying day over that.

 

But you can’t deny that there’s great stuff in the 80-104 markings, so we do have 4 symphonies from the last 25. Ah - the bad attempts at Haydn marketing have centered around the usually incorrect nicknames that some of these symphonies have. It would be a great help if they ALL had nicknames, but the named symphonies are easier to find, so you can’t deny that is a factor. To be honest, of the 10 I’ve chosen, only 2 are “nameless” and they are, in fact, my favorites, but nameless Haydn symphonies are like small college basketball teams during March Madness. Nobody knows them until you see them play a big name team. But suddenly...they’re just as good, if not better.

 

Symphony No. 78 is this writer’s favorite - a combination of dazzling virtuosic writing, with loads of wit and beautiful melody. It’s like a perfect sit-com episode, it’s rolls through with surprises and laughs, and it doesn’t linger too long...but at the end your response is, wow, that was good.

 

Symphony No 52 I included because my personal guide in my early days of Haydn was the scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, and he wrote that he considered Symphony No. 52 the best of Haydn’s middle years, the “Sturm und Drang” phase. I am on the fence, but include it for your pleasure.

 

Heading back up the hill to the post 80 symphonies, there’s one symphony from the “Paris” symphonies, which is my favorite collection of symphonies (hey - you can download all 6 on sale right now, which I would also suggest). I honestly put in La Reine because it won the “eeny-meeny” between “La Reine” and “L’Ours”, both of which I enjoy equally.

 

Three selections from the “London” symphonies? Most music listeners of a variety of skill levels prefer the “London” symphonies. They show Haydn at his “showiest”, combining a high wire act of fantatic entertaiment skill with his ability to write for a large orchestral ensemble. But I find them a tad lacking in his quicksilver imagination, a trait I return to often but heading back into my personal safety zone of Nos. 22 - 88. However, I say this in complete understanding that I might be the ONLY person who thinks this. These symphonies are like big Hollywood blockbusters - they deliver, and you enjoy the popcorn at the same time.

 

Ah...and I’ve reached back WAY back. Haydn’s “Le Matin” symphony established him at the court of Esterhazy as a young man of serious talent and this symphony does set the stage for the use of a symphony as an important means of artistic expression. And No. 22 takes that promise and wildly raised the bar - by breaking all the rules young Haydn set up in the previous collections, and establishing a newer planet for us all to discover.

 

OUR REVIEW

We weren't kidding - there really isn't a bad one in the bunch. A fanboy like me would be tempted to say that about all 107, but some of the very early symphonies are good for background, and that's about it. Download it - and savor it over a period of time. It's a great musical gift to yourself. --David White

TRACK LISTING

Symphony No. 6 in D Major, Hob. I.6 "Le Matin"

I. Adagio; Allegro 05:39
II. Adagio 08:49
III. Minuetto 04:21
IV. Finale. Allegro 04:32


75 Symphony No. 22 in E-flat Major, Hob. I.22 "The Philosopher"

I. Adagio 06:19
II. Presto 04:35
IIa. Andante grazioso (Venier version, possibly not by Haydn) 02:22
IV. Minuet & Trio 03:18
V. Finale. Presto 03:19


Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp Minor, Hob. I.45 "Farewell"

I. Allegro assai 05:43
II. Adagio 07:50
III. Minuet. Allegretto - Trio 04:23
IV. Finale. Presto - Adagio 08:50

Symphony No. 52 in C Minor, Hob. I.52

I. Allegro assai con brio 06:05
II. Andante 07:32
III. Minuet - Trio 03:25
IV. Finale. Presto 03:39


Symphony No. 63 in C Major, Hob. I.63 "La Roxelane"

I. Allegro 07:51
II. La Roxelane. Allegretto più tosto allegro 05:59
III. Minuetto (alternative version) 03:52
IV. Finale. Presto (alternative version) 03:42


Symphony No. 78 in C Minor, Hob. I.78

I. Vivace 05:28
II. Adagio 08:48
III. Minuetto. Allegretto 04:02
IV. FInale. Presto 04:27

Symphony No. 85 in B-flat Major, Hob. I.85 "La Reine"

I. Adagio; Vivace 07:13
II. Romance: Allegretto 07:33
III. Minuetto: Allegretto 04:51
IV. Finale: Presto 03:19


Symphony No. 93 in D Major, Hob. I.93

I. Adagio; Allegro assai 06:54
II. Largo cantabile 04:56
III. Minuetto: Allegro 04:02
IV. Finale: Presto, ma non troppo 04:46


Symphony No. 96 in D Major, Hob. I.96 "Miracle"

I. Adagio; Allegro 06:38
II. Andante 07:18
III. Minuetto 05:25
IV. Finale 03:36


Symphony No. 104 in D Major, Hob. I.104 "London"

I. Adagio; Allegro 09:03
II. Andante 09:03
III. Minuetto 04:19
IV. Finale 06:29

 

SOUND SAMPLES

SYMPHONY NO. 96 IN D MAJOR, I. ADAGIO; ALLEGRO

SYMPHONY NO. 85 "LA REINE", IV. FINALE