Symphonies
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Creation Date: 1762· Instrumentation: 2 Ob Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 16’ · Created as Symphony #25.
Symphony No. 14 in A major
This symphony, whose concertante usage and style suggest the Esterhazy period, is on a small scale, but every note tells. The opening Allegro molto, 3/4, is tiny; indeed the 'development', uniquely in Haydn's opening symphonic allegros, consists merely of a brief (and more tuneful) variant of the 'second theme' and a retransition, all in/on the dominant. The Andante is a simple rounded-binary movement, with the gorgeous tone-colour of a solo cello doubling the violin melody at the lower octave. (The first and second phrases of the main theme are more or less identical to the first and last phrases of the variation-finale theme in the Divertimento Hob.II: 11). The minuet suggests a faster tempo than most of the early-symphony galant works; the trio, in the minor and featuring a solo oboe, shows yet again how much Haydn could say with a very few notes.
The Finale, another tiny movement, is inherently incongruous. It is densely contrapuntal, yet its 'theme' is merely a scale descending through an entire octave, with the added indignity of an inappropriately high-minded trill on the penultimate note. Admittedly, the syncopated countermelody and, a little later, the rushing semiquaver accompaniment add rhythmic interest. The 'development' indeed brings new developments, and there is a delicious joke at the beginning of the reprise: the return of the tune is delayed by a single quiet measure of the tonic, which is 'right' in terms of the modulating retransitional sequence, but utterly 'wrong' in stealing the thunder from its reprise. And so the latter, which originally was piano, now breaks in fortissimo. The only proper response — not only here but throughout the movement — is laughter.
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I. Allegro Molto
II. Andante
III. Menuet e Trio
IV. Finale, Allegretto
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