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Creation Date: Ende 1779· Instrumentation: Fl 2 Ob 2 Fg 2 Hr – Str · Duration: 24’ · Created as Symphony #73.
Symphony No. 75 in D major
The slow introduction is marked grave (the only Haydn instrumental work for which this is so; usually he writes 'adagio', occasionally 'largo'). It is in fact serious in character, indeed closer in form and mood to his late 'London' introductions than any other in this volume. It alternates ff unison attacks with piano sighing motives, then turns to the minor, and eventually arrives on a long dominant pedal, with further chromatic inflections. The Presto in common time (another unusual combination) begins quietly but breathlessly with a chromatic rise, D-D#-E, which more than one commentator has heard as foreshadowing the Allegro in the overture to Don Giovanni (Mozart once copied out Haydn's theme). The exposition is relatively terse, and maintains the breathless air almost throughout; the lightly syncopated second theme breaks off before scarcely having begun. The development begins in more leisurely fashion, with sequential and contrapuntal discussions of the main theme, preceding the central section in the prevailing 'forward' style. However, the retransition returns to the leisurely contrapuntal mood and texture, in the compositionally most complex passage of the movement, to which Haydn adverts again during the recapitulation. Thus the theme reveals itself as a complex personality: not only bustling and forward-driving, but contrapuntal and deeply-felt.
The Poco adagio is the first of what would become a distinct 'type' in Haydn's slow movements: dominated by a beautiful, hymnlike melody in 3/4, with regular, legato, singable phrases (see also, for example, Symphonies 87, 98 and 99).4 The form is a regular theme and variations; the four variations, in regularly accelerating note values, feature in turn the first violins, the winds on a rhythmic ostinato, a solo cello, and the second violins underneath a 'straight' statement of the melody (with a gorgeous wind accompaniment); a very brief coda follows, in the same texture as the final variation.
The minuet, with its vigorous 'turn' motive, reverts to the forward-driving style of the Presto; the trio features the flute and first violins doubled at the unison (rather than at the octave, as was more common), on a sprightly melody with forzato upbeat accents. The finale, Vivace alia breve, is a free rondo, A—B—A1—C—A2—coda. The main theme for strings alone is a common 'rounded binary' form, a | | b—a, with both halves repeated; A1 is given in much more varied scoring, while A2 undergoes an expansion in its b strain, complete with Haydnesque 'surprises'. Meanwhile B is in the tonic minor, with a variant of the theme transposed into the bass; C, following a contrapuntal transition taking off from the end of A1,begins in the relative B minor but soon reverts to the home dominant and to A2. Following the latter an extended coda further develops both the contrapuntal transition to C and the surprises of b, to which is added a ruminative 'long-note' cadence — a reminder of the mood of the Poco adagio? — before the final shouts.
I. Grave - Presto
II. Poco Adagio (Andante Con Var)
III. Menuetto
IV. Finale, Vivace
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Joseph Haydn
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