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Creation Date: 2. Hälfte 1774· Instrumentation: 2 Ob Fg – 2 Hr 2 Trp – Pk – Str · Duration: 36’ · Created as Symphony #63.
Symphony No. 56 in C major
This 'trumpet' symphony is the only one in which Haydn explicitly specified both C alto horns and trumpets (as we have seen in the musicological note, trumpets were unusual; when they were paired with horns, the latter were usually basso). The first movement immediately exploits this brilliant sound-world: first the trumpets, then the horns descend through a triad, while the more massive (and expected) unison writing comes in the third phrase, after the piano contrast. The exposition includes that rarity, a genuine second theme (although it turns out to be merely a large-scale antecedent, the harmonic consequent reverting to forte — except that the cadence, thus long-delayed, is piano after all!). The first half of the development exploits the contrasts of the beginning through numerous modulations; eventually it settles into a loud imitative section that cadences on E as the dominant of A minor (compare Symphony No. 50), from where a brief, quiet interlude brings us home.
The Adagio is another of Haydn's long, deeply felt utterances characteristic of this period (compare No. 54). But it is far more concertante than No. 54: the oboes and obbligato bassoon are prominent throughout, and the horns are often independent as well (in this respect it is more closely related to No. 51, in vol. 7). Several passages in the minor uncannily anticipate Schumann, perhaps especially the slow movement of his Symphony N0.2.
The minuet is again very long, in miniature sonata form and with a good joking retransition back from the supertonic. The trio, for oboe and strings in the subdominant, is a brief study in elegance; it is tempting to imagine Haydn having wanted to produce here a 'normal' version of his deviant trio from No. 50.
The sonata-form finale is a C-major perpetuum mobile in triplets (only the rests demarcating the short individual phrases break the momentum). This too was something of a 'type'; compare the finale of Mozart's Symphony in C, K338. The development centers around the relative, A minor; a 'surprise' diminished seventh leads down a fifth to D minor, from where, as in the minuet, we revert directly to the recapitulation — but in a much more abrupt manner, with the greatest sonic climax in the symphony.
I. Allegro di molto
II. Adagio
III. Menuetto e Trio
IV. Finale, Prestissimo
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