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Creation Date: Aug.-Dez. 1763· Instrumentation: Fl 2 Ob Fg 4 Hr – Str · Duration: 26’ · Created as Symphony #30.
Symphony No. 72 in D major
This 'four-horn' symphony resembles No. 31, 'Hornsignal' from 1765. Both use the horns in virtuoso/concertante fashion, include 'concerto' slow movements, and end with a finale based on an identical concertante principle.
The opening of No. 72 is astonishing: in the eighth bar Haydn sets all four horns loose with virtuoso flights rarely heard before, and never since. This virtuosity sets the tone for the entire symphony, even though these passages recur only at the recapitulation and (more briefly) in a concluding fanfare. Although the slow movement is yet another example of pastoral - G major, 6/8, solo flute — in this case the bass discreetly subverts the Arcadian mood: except for the section-ending cadences, it plays almost exclusively on beats 'two' and 'three' of each half-bar, leaving the main melody notes on 'one' unsupported.
In the minuet the horns again open the proceedings and frequently 'echo' other events, including the final cadence; in between, Haydn reverts to a vigorously galant style. The trio is for the winds alone. The finale is a set of concertante variations on a binary theme for strings alone. The variations feature, in turn, solo flute, solo cellos, solo violin, solo double bass, the two oboes, and the full orchestra. Then a brief transition leads unexpectedly to a brilliant Presto coda in 6/8. Could this turn have had an extramusical association, as it unquestionably did in the related 'Hornsignal' symphony?
I. Allegro
II. Andante
III. Menuetto e Trio
IV. Thema con variazioni, Andante - Presto
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