Day 5: On Set

Haydn5You know the kind of music Hollywood uses as the soundtrack in a period piece, a movie set in a bygone era?

It’s stuff like what’s on CD 5, starting with Symphony No. 17 in F.

The only thing missing is Cate Blanchett.

Or Geoffrey Rush.

And a whole lot of powdered wigs and brightly colored clothes.

Think Jane Austin. Or George Washington. Or Mutiny on the Bounty, in which case an appearance by Clark Gable would be in order. (Forget Charles Laughton, though. I don’t want Captain Bligh to invade my reverie this morning.)

Clark_Gable_in_Mutiny_on_the_Bounty_trailerHere’s the point. When people think of the era of powdered wigs and formal, if not visually stunning, minuet or contredanse allemande dancing, they likely think of spirit that imbues Haydn’s Symphony No. 17 in F, although – to be sure – they’d more likely be hearing a quartet, not a full symphony, at these social gatherings. Still, there’s something about Symphony No. 17 in F that smacks of a gathering of that sort. It has a Late Baroque feel to it. All that’s missing is a harpsichord, for which I am immeasurably grateful. That instrument grates on my nerves like fingernails on a chalkboard.

The three-movement Symphony No. 17 in F “may have been written between Continue reading

Day 3: Off to the Races

Haydn3This morning’s listening fare opened with a bang — like thoroughbreds out of the gate.

And it should. The first composition on CD 3 is Symphony No. 9 in C, the first movement of which is allegro molto — very quick.

Which is a terrific way to begin a day.

Symphony 9 in C is a short symphony – its three movements constitute only about 12 minutes in length – that seems to end much too quickly. No sooner are the horses out of the gate and sprinting down the track when the race is over, and I find myself in Symphony No. 10 in D.

In between, however, is Movement II (“Andante”), which — as the term suggests — is slower, literally “at a walking pace.” It gives my metaphorical horses a chance to catch their breath.

Movement III (“Finale: Menuetto & Trio”) is slow, graceful, in the tempo of a minuet (often in 3/4 or 6/8 time). So now the horses are Continue reading