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Creation Date: 1780· Instrumentation: Fl 2 Ob 2 Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 25’ · Created as Symphony #75.
Symphony No. 62 in D major
This symphony is one of Haydn's most unusual. All four of its movements are in the same key (D major), without even a change of mode: a condition found in no other Haydn symphony (other than a few much earlier ones that begin with a slow movement). As in all cases where Haydn does something unexpected, one can only gain by assuming that it represented a calculated artistic decision. The opening Allegro reveals its origins as an overture in its combination of bustling surface activity and slow harmonic rhythm. The development is remarkable for being built primarily on a new, quiet idea, moving slowly in four-bar sequential steps; only the retransition reverts to the material and mood of the remainder.
The stylistic and psychological centre of this symphony is the second movement, the one 'wrongly' set in the tonic. It is marked Allegretto; that is, not slow. Its character is almost unique in Haydn: ethereal, delicate, a beautiful dream or reverie. The mood of the opening — piano for high strings, violins muted, basses silent — does not seem to match the material, which Charles Rosen describes as 'the least possible — two notes and a banal accompaniment'.1 However, these scraps are presented in a kind of rudimentary invertible counterpoint (the lower strings soon joining in); that is, they imply spiritual as well as material content. As the exposition continues, the winds enter by ones and twos: the flute during the transition to the dominant; oboes and bassoons at the first cadence in the dominant (the rhythm becoming more complex); finally the horns (the entire band now forte) at the beginning of the final paragraph of the exposition, whose ending however dies away again into ethereality. After a brief developmental episode in the minor, the recapitulation adds a graceful countermelody to the opening theme and an expansion and intensification of the rhythmically complex passage (in place of the full-band/orte), before the final cadences and a brief, quiet coda.
The minuet is straightforward (by Haydn's standards), while the trio in the subdominant, with its bassoon solo, adumbrates the famous syncopated trio of the 'Oxford' Symphony, in the same key. However, the large-scale sonata-form finale begins off the tonic, with predictably unpredictable consequences later on. This off-tonic beginning makes sense precisely because of the (as it were) excessive D-centricity of the symphony up to this point. At the same time, the finale is the most densely argued movement of the four, pro-du cing an appropriate sense of climax at the end.
I. Allegro
II. Allegretto
III. Menuet E Trio, Allegretto
IV. Finale, Allegro
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