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Cat. No. CHAN 0655 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0655 - Haydn: London Symphonies, Vol. 1
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Available From: 25 May 2000
On more than one occasion Haydn remarked that the happiest days of his life had been spent in London. At the age of fifty-eight he had been asked to travel from Vienna to the British capital to be the presiding composer at a concert series held in the Hanover Square Rooms, organised by the violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon.

The first visit lasted two seasons, 1791 and 1792, when the composer not only experienced the enormous affection of the British public but was able, in the best tradition of the Age of Enlightenment, to nurture and develop it in new compositions. A second visit was arranged for 1794 and 1795, and it was only old age and the demands of his employer, Prince Nicolaus II, that prevented Haydn from making a third visit.

The principal legacy of the two visits was twelve magnificent symphonies (Nos 93-104), works that form the culmination of over thirty years of work in the genre, and which were as much a tribute to the stimulating environment of ‘fin de siècle’ London as to Haydn’s endless creative imagination.

Symphony No. 95 in C minor was the second in the series, first performed in 1791. It is the only symphony of the twelve to be without a slow introduction and to be in a minor key. Symphony No. 103 (‘Drum Roll’) was first played in March 1795 during the last concert series in which Haydn participated. Following an atmospheric timpani roll, cellos, basses and bassoons play a sustained thematic line in the depths of the orchestra. No symphony by Haydn (or, indeed, Mozart) had begun in this sinister way.

London newspapers often reported that slow movements of Haydn’s symphonies were encored, and the Andante of No. 104 suggests why, with its masterly combination of tunefulness and impassioned declamation. One London commentator remarked after the premiere that, ‘for fifty years to come musical composers would be little better than imitators of Haydn; and would do little more than pour water on his leaves.’
Reviews

‘All in all, this is the finest disc of Haydn’s sacred music I have heard – an enthralling release.’
BBC Music Magazine on CHAN 0612 (Harmoniemesse etc.)

‘This is another excellent CD in the Haydn Mass Edition from Chandos. These are performances of enormous vitality and vigorous clarity… In a word, it is outstanding.’
Early Music Review on CHAN 0633 (Paukenmesse etc.)

I look forward to more in the series. It looks as if it will be an exciting and stimulating one. If you want these works on one disc, this is the one to have’.
American Record Guide

‘Richard Hickox scores over the competition by dividing the violins left and right, as was the practice in Haydn’s day, which means that you really register the flashing swordplay between first and seconds in ‘tuttis’’.
First Choice period instrument performance BBC Music Magazine Building a Library.

‘This disc…the fifth in an impressive Chandos series of Haydn Masses, blazes with energy and angst in equal measure.’
The Observer on CHAN 0640 (Nelsonmesse etc.)

 

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