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Creation Date: 1789· Instrumentation: Fl 2 Ob 2 Fg – 2 Hr 2 Trp – Pk – Str · Duration: 27’ · Created as Symphony #94.
Hob.I:92 Symphony in G Major Oxford
The Oxford Symphony (No. 92) is actually a Paris Symphony: it originally belonged to the edifice the three works ordered by Prince von Oettingen-Wallerstein in 1788 and simultaneously composed for the Paris Loge Olympique by Haydn as a “follow-up” to the Paris Symphonies due to the enormous demand, but was probably not completed on time. The first known performance of the composition took place in July of 1791 in Oxford – hence the name – at the conferral of an honorary doctorate to Joseph Haydn. Haydn knew why this specific symphony was selected for the occasion: it lives up to the title of “Doctor of Music” and in every aspect is on par with the London Symphonies among which they had yet to be counted. Here, as well, the slow introduction serves as a structural means for providing a solid framework to what in formal terms is an extremely complex major section: the principal theme begins so to speak “in the middle,” outside the tonic. The composition of the entire movement is so chromatic and contrapuntal that the actual development only needs to be short. The adagio of this symphony is among Joseph Haydn’s most famous slow movements ever, formally in a simple tripartite structure with a surprisingly turbulent minor-key mid-section which contrasts with the cantabile of the main section. In melodic terms this part of the setting is entirely dependent on the dominance of the violins. As is often the case with Haydn, the minuet is left to the performer’s interpretation. At first glance it can even be considered “Alpine,” if you will, where rhythmic surprises lurk behind the simple billowing of the melody. In the trio Haydn succeeded at creating an original arrangement with simple horn quintets. The final movement resumes the rondo cadence, but proves to be a sophisticated composition of a sonata movement in its delicately balanced exchange between “intellectual” and “gallant.”
I. Adagio - Allegro spiritoso
II. Adagio
III. Menuet. Allegretto - Trio
IV. Finale. Presto
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