Symphonies
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Creation Date: 1769· Instrumentation: 2 Ob Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 24’ · Created as Symphony #48.
Symphony No. 65 in A major
This symphony is nearly as 'theatrical' as No. 59. To be sure, the opening Vivace e con spirito is closer to the 'neutral' rhetoric of ordinary symphonies; nonetheless it is a marvelously high-spirited and inventive composing-out of its opening contrast: between three annunciatory 'hammerstroke' chords (note the unusual melodic succession: 1-4-3), and the ensuing quiet off-tonic melody. Witty indeed is Haydn's inclusion, early in the development, of a 'false reprise' only of the quiet melody, without the hammerstrokes, and his consequent recomposition of the 'true' recapitulation. The Andante, by contrast, is so eccentric as again irresistibly to conjure up the stage. It is in sonata form but its unexpected, occasionally disorienting juxtapositions of four incompatible motives - a cantabile phrase with an off-tonic headmotive in triplets, a wind fanfare, a naked repeated-note pedal, and a sinuous phrase for the strings in unison — seem to deny all formal and rhetorical decorum.
The minuet astonishes by its rhythm. A 'normal' opening phrase with prominent turn-motives on the downbeats is answered in the dominant; but now the turn figure, accented, appears every fourth beat (in the entire texture, not merely as a syncopation against steady downbeats elsewhere). The eruption of 4/4 metre is shocking in this context; it could be called Brahmsian, if only that admirer of Haydn had played his rhythmic games in an equally frank manner. The trio, like that in No. 59, is in the tonic minor for strings alone; it alternates a subtly conspiratorial grace-note ostinato with a frankly conspiratorial rising sequence. The latter is in hemiola (two-note groupings within 3/4); that is, the 'opposite' rhythmic deformation from that in the minuet. The Presto finale is a jig in which the characteristic 12/8 melodic figures are introduced by a horn-call in octaves. Soon the horns take the 12/8 figure, accompanied by massive string chords (recalling the ham-merstrokes from the opening movement), and a rollicking finale-exposition ensues. At the beginning of the development the horn-call engenders one of Haydn's most astonishing surprises. Thereafter all is well, except that at the beginning of the recapitulation the horn jig-motive and the hammerstrokes are nowhere to be heard - only to return, following a coda-like repetition of the opening theme, as the boisterous climax of this splendid finale.
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I. Vivace e con spirito
II. Andante
III. Menuetto e trio
IV. Finale, presto
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