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Creation Date: Juni-Dez. 1761· Instrumentation: 2 Ob Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 18’ · Created as Symphony #17.
Symphony No. 3 in G major
If this imposing work is indeed earlier than 1761, as the sources imply, it offers persuasive evidence of Haydn's early mastery. The opening Allegro, 3/4, begins with a theme that is potentially in double counterpoint, the long melody notes contrasting with 'running' quavers in the bass (though the melody is heard in homophonic versions as well). Among the other contrapuntal passages in the movement, the most impressive occurs just after the beginning of the recapitulation: the long notes finally turn up in the bass, the first violins bring a new version of the running motive, and the seconds add a new syncopated countermelody.
The sonata-form Andante moderato turns to the tonic minor; its apparently simple tune develops into an intricate web of hocketing and imitative figures. The minuet may sound galant, but it is a strict canon at the octave: one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of the many symphonic minuets where Haydn injected 'learned' elements into this unassuming dance-form. The trio is pure concertante for the winds.
But the Finale, a masterpiece, trumps all this with a remarkable synthesis of fugue and sonata style, again arguably Haydn's first example of this important type of finale.
Indeed it resembles the finale of the 'Jupiter' Symphony, in that it is a sonata-form movement in elaborately contrapuntal texture, based on a 'cantus firmus'-like subject consisting of four semibreves. The first group in the tonic is a formal fugal exposition; the transition, although more 'businesslike', uses two new motives in invertible counterpoint. The second group in the dominant combines one of the latter with the original 'cantus firmus' motive, and the development increases the complexity considerably. Finally, the recapitulation features a four-part stretto on the 'cantus' — until, as always, Haydn reverts to sonata style at the very end, for a spirited wind-up.
I. Allegro
II. Andante Moderato
III. Menuet e Trio
IV. Alla Breve
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