Day 106: A Few Delightful Surprises

HaydnCD106Another FAVORITE!

I was hooked from the first few notes of Movement I (“Andante”) of Piano Trio in C Minor.

There’s a melody here!

Haydn wrote a discernible melody!

This isn’t just a well-crafted landscape of music. It’s compelling – nearly hummable – to boot.

And that’s not even taking into account the lovely piano work, which is especially extraordinary in this piece (the piano really cuts loose about 3/4 into it). And the violin passages (it switches from the piano carrying the melody to the violin carrying the melody at about the 1:00 mark).

I could listen to Piano Trio in C Minor HOB XV:13 all day long.

Piano Trio in A Flat HOB XV:14 is no slouch, though. Terrific piano work in Movement I (“Allegro moderato”). Movement II (“Adagio”) is much slower, but no less compelling, especially when the piano is tinkling away and the violin is doing its pizzicato best to arrest my attention. Movement III (“Rondo Vivace”) brings this Trio to a close in grand style.

Piano Trio in F HOB XV:2 is also quite exquisite from Movement I (“Allegro moderato”) to Movement III (“Finale: Adagio with four variations”). Movement III contains really interesting instrumentation. It’s very hard to describe (because, remember, I’m not a musicologist). But from about the 3:54 mark until the 4:25 mark it’s almost comical. The instruments would play Dee-Do-Dee-Do-Do and then there’d be a Dee! Dee! Dee!, then back to Dee-Do-Dee-Do-Do and then another rapid-fire Dee! Dee! Dee! I’d say listen for yourself, except I couldn’t find that particular clip on YouTube.

The entire CD is worth listening to again and again.

Providing the music for these wonderful Piano Trios is the Van Swieten Trio, which consists of:

Bart van Oort fortepiano
Remy Baudet violin
Jaap ter Linden cello

Here’s a list of Haydn’s piano trios. The are referred to by their Hoboken catalog names, and their date of composition is not always certain. So I’ll Continue reading

Day 45: The Sorrows of Mary

HaydnCD45Today’s CD is one 70-minute composition called Stabat Mater (Hob XX:BIS). It was composed in 1767. Haydn was 35.

The phrase “Stabat Mater,” according to its entry on Wiki,

Of two hymns, Stabat Mater Dolorosa (about the Sorrows of Mary) and Stabat Mater Speciosa (joyfully referring to the Nativity of Jesus), Stabat Mater usually refers to the first, a 13th-century Catholic hymn to Mary, variously attributed to the Franciscan Jacopone da Todi and to Innocent III.

The title of the sorrowful hymn is an incipit of the first line, Stabat mater dolorosa (“The sorrowful mother stood”). The Dolorosa hymn, one of the most powerful and immediate of extant medieval poems, meditates on the suffering of Mary, Jesus Christ’s mother, during his crucifixion.

By the way, there’s an entire page on Wikipedia devoted to Marian devotions, if you’re so inclined. From the Wiki article:

There are many Marian devotions, ranging from multi-day prayers such as Catholics’ Novenas, the veneration of icons in Eastern Christianity, and activities which do not involve prayers, such as the wearing of scapulars or maintaining a Mary garden.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary does not, however, amount to worship – which is reserved for God; e.g. both Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox view Mary as subordinate to Christ, but uniquely so, in that she is seen as above all other creatures.

So this was the world in which Franz Joseph Haydn walked. He was a devout Catholic.

I’m not fond of masses, as a general rule. Not even Haydn’s. They’re good, perhaps great. But I most often enjoy Continue reading

Day 36: Scary Movies…and Circuses

HaydnCD36Today’s music is Organ Concertos.

That means I’ll probably hear an organ that’ll remind me of the score of a silent film, something akin to Phantom of the Opera or some other scary movie.

It’s inevitable, really.

Any time I hear and old-timey organ in Classical music, I think of the opening flourish of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (BMV 565), which is one of the most distinctive – and famous – passages of music ever written:

See what I mean? You know that sound even if you don’t know it’s name. (Now you do. Write it down in case you ever find yourself on Jeopardy!)

But that’s not the music I’ll hear today. For one thing, it’s not Bach on tap; it’s Haydn.

For another, according to the list of Haydn’s concertos published on Wikipedia, today’s musical selection selection was published in 1756. (Haydn was 24.) Bach lived from 1685 – 1750. So, although, Haydn could have been influenced by Bach (and, most likely, was), I think he was too busy blazing his own trail to copy the works of Johann Sebastian note for note.

Meaning? Meaning the style of music had changed from the early days of Bach to the heyday of Haydn. Therefore, the organ solos in Haydn’s works won’t Continue reading

Day 9: Meh (But a Truly Competent Meh)

Haydn009It’s a beautiful Fall day. The sun is shining. The temperature at this moment is a crisp 46 degrees (that’s 7.78 Celsius to some of you), on its way to a high of around 70 degrees, with nothing but sun, sun, sun in a sky of blue in the forecast.

Maybe that’s why Haydn’s symphonies are not holding my attention this morning.

I listened to CD 9 twice. And I could have sworn I was listening to the same movement on repeat the entire time.

Symphony No. 34 in D Minor begins with a long adagio movement that, although substantive, isn’t particularly memorable. Movement II (“Allegro”) is somewhat better, although it sounds unlike the previous symphonies I’ve heard. It sounds more like a full orchestra, more like a traditional symphony. The sound is big. Lots of instruments. Movements III and IV follow suit. They’re expertly crafted. No doubt. But they don’t move me.

This symphony was composed in 1765. Haydn was 33.

Symphony No. 35 in B Flat, composed in 1767 (Haydn was 35), sounds like another full-orchestra symphony. By that, I mean I hear fewer solos form oboes, bassoon, horns, etc. Movement IV (“Presto”) is a lot of fun. Very lively. Not particularly memorable. But a flurry of instrumentation that I enjoy.

Symphony No. 36 in E Flat, composed, according to Continue reading