Sir Simon Rattle
This month, the LSO wind up their 2016-17 orchestral season with a pair of concerts including Haydn’s music. Haydn: An Imaginary Orchestral Journey is an idea of Music Director Designate Sir Simon Rattle, in which familiar ideas of the composer are brought together in an orchestral pasticcio. The LSO told us:
Sir Simon not only chose his own favourite movements for the pasticcio but also works that tell a story. The oratorio The Creation begins with an instrumental introduction representing chaos. Menacing timpani blows, swirling expanses of sound, dissonances and tentative chains of notes convey the impression of something in turmoil, in the process of formation, not yet concrete. It goes without saying, however, that everything is in order as far as Haydn’s composition is concerned, despite these elements of chance and disorder. The “Terremoto” (Earthquake) from the instrumental work The Seven Words of Christ on the Cross also depicts chaotic conditions. After the death of Jesus on the cross, the world is out of balance, the earth trembles – at least musically. The introduction to “Winter” from the oratorio The Seasons portrays, in Haydn’s own words, “the thick fog with which winter begins”. Another spectacle of nature – calm at sea, stormy seas and the gentle play of waves – is depicted in the overture to the Azione teatrale [theatrical action] L’isola disabitata.
Few people think of Haydn as an opera composer today, since his most important genre was instrumental music, particularly the symphony. With the exception of the minuet from Symphony No. 6 (“Le Matin”), which probably dates from 1761, Simon Rattle has chosen movements from symphonies which Haydn composed for the musical entertainment of his employer, Prince Nikolaus I Esterházy, during the 1770s and 80s. The selection illustrates the sense of adventure, variety and, above all, humour with which the composer applied himself to this genre. Every movement surprises the listener with something witty. Sir Simon came up with an original idea for the transition from Symphony No. 45, the “Farewell” Symphony, to the Finale of Symphony No. 90: music for flute clocks. In these mechanical marvels, the clockwork operates a small organ with a pinned cylinder that plays a musical work. Haydn, who was a friend of Father Primitivus Niemecz, Prince Esterházy’s librarian and a clockmaker, composed a number of pieces for his flute clocks, several of which will be played today. “We’ll see whether it works,” says Simon Rattle, “but the idea is to make a musical journey through all that is quirky and extraordinary, humorous and profound in Haydn. Hopefully this pasticcio will give a picture of the composer who most summed up all the ideals of the Enlightenment, of intelligence, respect, humour, wit and profound thought.”
Haydn: An Imaginary Orchestral Journey is at the Barbican from 12-13 July 2017.
We are very pleased to be able to support our friend, conductor Ben Palmer, in celebrating the 10th anniversary of his artistic directorship of the Orchestra of St Paul’s.
The concert on 17 February 2017, including a performance of Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat, takes place in St. Paul’s Covent Garden, the venue for the concert we supported in 2016 of Ben’s new arrangement of Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross.
Tickets will be available on the door.
We are delighted to have heard news from the Winchester Music Club. As part of the celebrations leading to their centenary in 2025, they will be performing all the extant and surviving masses of Joseph Haydn, who came to Winchester in August 1794 during one of his visits to England.
The Club writes:
“These twelve settings of the mass, which will be performed over eight concerts between 2017 and 2024, include some of the finest church music ever written. In particular, the last six masses, composed for the annual celebrations of the Feast of our Lady, cemented Haydn’s reputation across Europe at the end of the 18th century. Although often overlooked, in this area Haydn’s achievements exceed even those of his younger contemporary, Mozart.
All Haydn’s masses have been recorded several times, but we do not think that any choir has attempted to perform them all live in concert as a series. Seven of the twelve will be receiving their first performances by the Winchester Music Club.
Other choral and instrumental works by Haydn will also feature during the series, including settings of the Te Deum and Salve Regina (his earliest known choral work), and concertos for various instruments, most notably his famous Trumpet Concerto. The same concerts will include music by other composers who were contemporaries of Joseph Haydn: Mozart, Beethoven, and Michael Haydn, brother of Joseph. The cycle will conclude in March 2024 at the end of our 99th season, with a performance of Haydn’s last mass, the Harmoniemesse.
The series will be launched on 19 March 2017 in New Hall, Winchester College, with a performance of Haydn’s most famous mass, the so-called ‘Nelson’ Mass (more properly the Missa in Angustiis), along with Mozart’s Solemn Vespers and an organ concerto by Haydn, with Jamal Sutton as soloist.”
It’s nice to be able to close out this most Sturm und Drang of a year with news of the publication of our Journal issue 35 – which includes a piece from our friend and prolific blogger Michael McCaffrey on how Shakespeare led Haydn to the idea itself.
See the Membership page for more detail on how to become a member and so receive a copy of the Journal upon publication.
There’s lots more from the Society on day to day issues, including news of Haydn performances in the UK, via social media (Facebook & Twitter), so do join us there.
Sir Neville Marriner speaking at the unveiling of the Haydn Plaque, March 2015 (image: Iona Wolff)
Director of the Haydn Society of Great Britain, Denis McCaldin, writes:
“The Haydn Society shares a deep sense of loss following the death of Sir Neville Marriner on Sunday, 2nd October 2016. It was only a few months ago that he generously unveiled our blue plaque to the composer in London at 18, Great Pulteney Street. In his introductory speech, Sir Neville spoke of his gratitude to Haydn for many things, not least for creating much of the rich repertoire of his chamber orchestra, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Through their many performances and recordings together, they became major pioneers in the current revival of interest in Haydn’s music. The recordings live on, and remain a lasting tribute to both composer and conductor.”