Symphonies
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Creation Date: 1769· Instrumentation: 2 Ob Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 29’ · Created as Symphony #49.
Symphony No. 48 in C major
As stated in the introductory note, this work has nothing to do with Maria Theresia's visit to Eszterháza castle in 1773. It must date from 1768—69; its closest 'C major' relation is therefore No. 41 (see Volume 5). On the other hand No. 48 is not only longer, but grander, and one can see why it should have encouraged festive, even 'royal' associations. The first movement is laid out very broadly; in places it almost seems 'processional'. In the first group, wind fanfares alternate with long string passages; the huge second group boasts four substantial and very different paragraphs, which include numerous internal contrasts as well. The extensive development climaxes in a tremendous sequential paragraph based on the first paragraph of the second group; its final stage, just before the arrival on the home dominant, must have inspired the strikingly similar passage in Mozart's 'Jupiter' Symphony: the same key, the same point in the form, the same 'flashing' upbeat figure, and carrying out the same modulation (Haydn, bars 114-19; Mozart, bars 171-79).
The beautiful and languorous Adagio in sonata form is one of Haydn's longest slow movements. The winds are unusually prominent; the oboes have solo interjections in the very first strain, while in the second strain (still in the tonic) the horns take the lead — an event that will have consequences later on. The second group is very long; when the triplet motives take over, they lead to several deceptive cadences, each one different, and each leading to yet another extension. After a relatively short development, the recapitulation is introduced by an astonishing stroke. As the music reaches the dominant of D minor (A), it suddenly stops; the oboes and horns hold the A in bare octaves, pp (always a significant dynamic mark in Haydn); suddenly the horns reinterpret A as the third scale-degree of F major, and sound their tune from the second strain of the first theme. It is all astonishingly romantic. Only thereafter does Haydn revert to the home dominant and the recapitulation proper, beginning with the original first strain.
The minuet returns to the festive mood of the Allegro, while maintaining the unusually broad dimensions that characterize the entire symphony. Towards the end it erupts in a martial fanfare in octaves for the entire band; as so often, however, the final phrase is quiet. The trio is in the tonic minor; it too is rather long, and concludes with an extended chromatic progression, which only returns to the tonic at the last moment.
The rushing alla breve Finale contrasts decisively with the processional opening movement (although the 'Jupiter' motive does make one fleeting appearance). Once the transition is underway, the music hurtles all the way to the double-bar without pausing for breath. In compensation, the development begins quietly with a long dominant pedal inflected by the minor; this eventually leads to an 'immediate reprise' (compare Symphony 43/i). Thereafter the development again rushes headlong into the recapitulation, and so to the end.
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I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Menuet e Trio
IV. Finale, Allegro
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