Day 116: Tiptoeing Through the Barytons

HaydnCD116If you’ve been following my previous posts, you know that these baryton trios are a bit of a slog for me.

It’s not that they’re poorly played (on the contrary, these musicians are brilliant). It’s not that they’re badly written (Haydn was, after all, Haydn).

It’s that they’re all the same, more or less. Over one hundred compositions for the baryton (an old instrument somewhat like a cello), many of which are in the key of A because Prince Esterhazy wasn’t an accomplished player and so Haydn had to “dumb down” his compositions for the Prince.

I did notice something interesting in one of the trios today. I also notice a pizzicato passage because it always strikes me as humorous. Like cartoon characters tip toeing, sneaking up on someone. This plucking style appeared in Movement II (“Menuet”) of Baryton Trio No. 34 in D and caught my attention immediately. This Movement II is rather pleasant. I could listen to this one repeatedly.

In addition, the third and final movement (“Finale: Presto”) is peppier than usual as well.

Dare I say this baryton trio is a FAVORITE?

The next one (Baryton Trio No. 35 in A) is also Continue reading

Day 18: Bam!

HaydnCD18I was enthralled by Symphony No. 61 in D within its first 20 seconds.

The symphony opens with a burst of instruments — bam! — and then there’s a stuttering, a chattering, a dancing of strings building up to another full-instrument burst — bam! Then, oboe and bassoon enter the dance. Things really get rocking at the :30 mark when it sounds like bursts of fireworks. It’s bam! bam! bam! bam! syncopated around the dancing strings and the serenading, oboe, bassoon, and flute. These are some of the most stirring seconds I’ve yet heard from Haydn. This is hair-raising, truly invigorating craftsmanship.

Well, here it is. Listen for yourself. This is exactly the same performance to which I’m listening this morning:

Same conductor  (Adam Fischer), same orchestra (Austro-Hungarian Orchestra).

Antony Hodgson, author of The Music of Joseph Haydn: The Symphonies, describes it this way in Continue reading