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Hyperion Records

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The Thames at Westminster by William James (1730-1780)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDS44371/4
Recording details: May 2008
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Produced by Ben Connellan
Engineered by Michael Rast
Release date: February 2009
Total duration: 23 minutes 39 seconds

'The Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana is finely honed and the rapport is evident, with unfailingly fine and musicianly playing' (Gramophone)

'Performances of the symphonies that are ultra-clean, pleasingly joyous and straightforwardly entertaining' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The orchestra is very well caught by the engineers, with ample bloom and no unnecessary or false highlighting of instruments. There is an excellent booklet by the ever-reliable Haydn expert Richard Wigmore and, best of all, Hyperion are offering the set at budget price, a little over £20.00 for four discs. I also like the fact that the works are all laid out in numbered order across the discs, unlike Bruggen and Davis, where the sequence is split up for some reason. The Davis cycle is cheaper and still an obvious rival but the sound is not as rich or detailed, and the Bruggen appears unavailable at present. It is a very crowded market but I reckon Hyperion deserve to do well with this one' (MusicWeb International)

'Sa splendide intégrale des Londoniennes … ces interprétations dégagent une extraordinaire vitalité' (Le Monde de la Musique, France)

Symphony No 100 in G major 'Military'
composer
first performed on 31 March 1794

Allegretto  [5'51]
Finale: Presto  [5'20]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In No 100, the ‘Military’, premiered on 31 March 1794, Haydn set out to cap the popular success of the ‘Surprise’ two years earlier. He triumphantly succeeded, thanks to the Allegretto second movement that reworks and enriches a march-like Romanze from one of the lire concertos written in 1786 for the King of Naples. In 1794 Britain was at war with revolutionary France; and for the first time, Haydn writes music that makes overt reference to the contemporary political situation. The C major opening is all pastoral innocence, with picturesque scoring for woodwind, including clarinets which Haydn omits from the other movements; and even the battery of ‘Turkish’ instruments (triangle, cymbals and bass drum) that reinforce the C minor central episode is initially more exotic than menacing. But the ‘war’ topic gradually infiltrates the music, culminating in a trumpet fanfare that quotes the Austrian General Salute, and a fortissimo crash in the remote key of A flat. ‘It is the advancing to battle’, pronounced the Morning Chronicle after the premiere. ‘And the march of men, the sounding of the charge, the thundering of the onset, the clash of arms, the groans of the wounded, and what may well be called the hellish roar of war increased to a climax of horrid sublimity.’

Another reviewer, in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung, wrote that the symphony was ‘rather less learned and easier to take in than some other recent works of his, yet equally rich in new ideas’. One inspired novelty is the ‘fairy’ scoring for flute and oboes of the Allegro’s first theme, whose outline had been prefigured in the slow introduction. This turns up in the key of the dominant, D major, before Haydn introduces an even catchier melody, the inspiration for Johann Strauss the Elder’s famous Radetzky March composed in the wake of the 1848 Viennese Revolution. Like the equivalent, popular-style tune in No 99, this late-arriving theme then proceeds to hijack the musical argument, through the notably explosive development and the truncated recapitulation, to the most glittering, orchestrally virtuosic coda of Haydn’s career.

The courtly opening of the minuet (whose leisurely pacing offsets the symphony’s ‘fast’ slow movement) is deceptive. The music later grows truculent with cross-rhythms, and then chromatically wistful. Even the exquisitely well-bred trio is momentarily disrupted by military-style fanfares. The bellicose ‘Turkish’ battery returns at the end of the finale, raucously capping a tarantella-style movement that develops its ‘kittenish’ (Tovey’s word) main theme and a comically sparring second subject with fantastic intricacy and harmonic sleight-of-hand, not least in the development’s mysterious mock fugato in the far-distant key of C sharp minor.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

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