Hyperion Records

Symphony No 97 in C major
first performed on 3 (or 4) May 1792

'Haydn: Symphonies Nos 92-3 & 97-9' (LSO0702)
Haydn: Symphonies Nos 92-3 & 97-9
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'Haydn: The London Symphonies' (CDS44371/4)
Haydn: The London Symphonies
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Movement 1: Adagio – Vivace
Movement 2: Adagio ma non troppo
Movement 3: Menuetto – Trio: Allegretto
Movement 4: Finale: Presto assai

Symphony No 97 in C major
Symphony No 97 was Haydn’s final offering for Salomon’s 1792 season, premiered on 3 (or possibly 4) May. Together with Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’, this is the most imposing in a long line of ceremonial, trumpet-and-drum-festooned Austrian symphonies in C major. The martial splendour of the first movement, with its battering tonic-and-dominant fanfares, is offset by a charming rustic waltz of a ‘second subject’. This is also one of Haydn’s subtlest designs. The surprisingly subdued slow introduction is framed by a haunting cadence on a diminished seventh chord. Haydn binds the introduction closely to the main Vivace by bringing back the expressive cadence at the very end of the exposition. After a development that includes a contrapuntal trio for flute and oboes against whispered fanfare fragments in the strings—an astonishing, original sonority—and a drastically compressed recapitulation, the ambiguous diminished seventh pivots the music poetically to E flat, necessitating a long coda that gradually restores the home key of C major.

As in Symphony No 94, Haydn writes a theme-and-variation slow movement (here Adagio ma non troppo) that subjects an instantly appealing melody to dramatic transformations, most spectacularly in the third variation, where the violins create a whining, metallic sonority by playing sul ponticello (‘on the bridge’). Even more extraordinary is the coda, with its keening flute and oboe above faintly ominous string tremolos. Uniquely in these symphonies, the minuet and rustic-dance trio both have fully written-out repeats that present their themes in ever-new orchestral guises. The swaggering minuet subsequently becomes almost dainty; and the trio culminates in a delicious passage, like a transfigured village band, with a single violin (marked ‘Salomon solo ma piano’) playing the melody an octave above the orchestral violins. By 1792 Haydn’s London public were prepared for the élan and inspired theatricality of his sonata-rondo finales. No 97’s adds an aggressive brilliance and harmonic and contrapuntal dexterity of its own, climaxing in a coda that comically stutters to a halt before erupting in a final peal of C major.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDS44371/4 disc 2 track 6
Adagio ma non troppo
Recording date
1 May 2008
Recording venue
Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Michael Rast
Hyperion usage
  1. Haydn: The London Symphonies (CDS44371/4)
    Disc 2 Track 6
    Release date: February 2009
    4CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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