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Creation Date: ca. 1774/75· Instrumentation: 2 Ob 2 Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 28’ · Created as Symphony #66.
Symphony No. 67 in F major
This is one of Haydn's better-known symphonies from this period, owing to its lively opening movement, various special effects (to be described below) and formally unique finale. The whiff of the stage seems palpable, although there is no concrete evidence for such a connection.
The opening movement exhibits the unusual tempo/metre combination of Presto 6/8, which one would ordinarily expect in a finale, although the sprightly triadic main theme develops an unexpected degree of sentiment before it cadences. The vigorous exposition makes room for a true 'second theme' in the dominant. Later, however, the prevailing simplicity of texture is violated by a canonic episode in the development, although the latter section, unusually, both begins and ends in a relaxed manner.
The slow movement, with that of No.68, belongs to a distinct subtype characteristic of this period: Adagios in sonata form, with muted violins, based on short, aphoristic phrases that tend to dissolve into delicate filigree work, but in mood hovering ambiguously between comedy and sentiment. They are in no sense 'popular'. Here, this stylistic mixture is most prominent in the development; its central section is an extraordinary 'still' filigree passage, actually an extended canon for the two violin parts, enclosed on either side by the most expressive passages of the movement. But Haydn's final word is strictly comic: the tender opening phrase is repeated in its entirety col legno.
The short, boisterous minuet 'sets up' the remarkable trio. The latter is scored for the two principal violins, solo and muted; the first warbles a possibly 'ethnic' tune in the heights, while the second plays a bordun bass and also accompanies the first in double stops: the two players thus comprise a 'trio' not merely formally, but in the literal sense of comprising three musical parts. But the joke goes further: since the movement is in F, the second must tune his G string down a whole tone in order to perform the bordun.
The finale continues the reversal of movement types by being alla breve with the tempo mark Allegro di molto, characteristics 'proper' to an opening movement. It exhibits the poorly named 'da capo-overture' form ('reprise-overture' form seems more appropriate): a full exposition ending in the dominant and full recapitulation, with however a contrasting middle section in a different tempo in place of the development. The Allegro may seem conventional, although its very proper 'second theme' is unusual for Haydn. At the conclusion of the exposition he abruptly shifts to Adagio e cantabile and 3/8, for another trio of soloists — now, however, a 'true' trio, comprising the two principal violins and principal cello. They execute a complete two-part theme in the tonic, with repeats; the full band joins in for the final strain, with magical effect. A complete second theme follows in the subdominant, featuring the winds; its opening motif is identical to that of the Missa Sancti Nicolai of 1772, albeit in a different key. Eventually the music winds round to the home dominant, whereupon, as if nothing unusual had happened, the Allegro di molto resumes with a complete recapitulation — until, as the final buffo stroke, a simple three-note motif dies away over a rustling ostinato in the violins.
I. Presto
II. Adagio
III. Menuetto e Trio
IV. Finale, Allegro di molto - Adagio e cantabile
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