Hyperion Records

Symphony No 21 in A major

'Haydn: Symphonies Nos 17-21' (CDH55115)
Haydn: Symphonies Nos 17-21
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55115  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
Movement 1: Adagio
Track 14 on CDH55115 [4'09] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 2: Presto
Track 15 on CDH55115 [4'43] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 3: Menuet
Track 16 on CDH55115 [3'44] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
Movement 4: Finale: Allegro molto
Track 17 on CDH55115 [4'10] Helios (Hyperion's budget label)

Symphony No 21 in A major
With Symphony No 21, we come to a work of a slightly later period. In 1760 Haydn married Maria Keller, a former pupil, and some time that year or the next, Morzin had to disband his orchestra in the face of financial difficulties. Haydn then moved to take up the position of Deputy Kapellmeister to the Esterházy family—his contract was dated May 1761—a post, soon upgraded to Kapellmeister proper, that he would hold for some three decades. The pattern of his life in his new post has been detailed elsewhere in the notes to other recordings in this series. Suffice it to say that he was the court’s chief provider of music, composing everything from sonatas for the prince’s baryton to large-scale operatic works and, of course, the vast majority of his symphonies.

Unlike the other symphonies recorded here, No 21 at least survives in a dated autograph manuscript from 1764. This suggests that it post-dates some dozen other Esterháza symphonies, resulting in an output averaging at least four symphonies a year during the early to mid-1760s. Like No 18, this symphony again falls into the form of a church sonata, though at least here Haydn maintains the full four-movement structure. It also shows, in neat contrast to No 20, how his wind writing was beginning to mature: the oboes, for instance, are given brief solos independent of the string line early on in the fantasia-Iike first movement. The ensuing Presto provides a rhythmically taught foil to this opening and is followed by a Minuet and a lively finale that features some nifty alternating quavers between the violins in its main theme.

from notes by Matthew Rye © 1993

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