Londoner Sinfonien, 3. Folge
Herausgeber: Horst Walter; Reihe I, Band 17; G. Henle Verlag München
Hob.I:101 Symphony in D Major "The Clock"
Symphony No. 101, The Clock, is one of Joseph Haydn’s most played and most popular works. It was performed for the first time during the 1794 concert season. Following a mysterious D-minor introduction which already anticipates the direction of movement of the principal theme – the first movement is a light-footed presto in six-eight time. The secondary theme proves to be more a variant than a contrast; the development is a surprisingly contrapuntal. The piece took its sobriquet from the “ticking,” the movement of a metronome-like ostinato accompaniment on the bassoon and the string pizzicato in the second movement, a grand form of song with elements of variation. The minuet is borrowed from the flute-clock pieces of 1793; the dissonant beginning seems to owe itself to a musical jest on the part of the composer: like musicians who “sleep through” the harmonic change in the accompaniment (Beethoven also develops his Pastoral with similar effects in the scherzo’s village musician scene much later). The finale is an extremely elaborate sonata rondo, the developmental sections of which are interspersed with fugati; without exaggerating, this finale can be called one of the summits of Haydn’s compositional mastery which in this case consists less of demonstrated “erudition,” but of the unassuming way in which this “scholar” inserts the presto finale. Haydn composed Symphony No. 101 in the scope of his second trip to England. It emerged in two stages: the second to fourth movements still in Vienna, the first movement in England. Its premiere performance took place on 3 March 1794. The Morning Chronicle reports after its first performance: “Nothing can be more original than the subject of the first movement; and having found a happy subject, no one knows like Haydn how to produce incessant variety without once departing from it. Thought extremely simple, the arrangement of the accompaniment in andante was ingenious, and never before had we heard a more delightful effect than the trio in the minuet. - It was Haydn; what can we, what need we say more?” The sobriquet The Clock stems from the Vienna publisher Johann Traeg, who published a piano version of the andante as Rondo. The Clockin 1798. To some extent such sobriquets can elicit an exaggerated degree of expectation, however. Thus Jacob (1952) reports of an incident following the performance of the symphony in 1928 in Vienna by the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini: one of the listeners lamented in the artists’ room that he did not hear the clock except for in the andante. He had expected to hear tone painting with a persistent clock-related theme, thus a “story of the clock,” and felt highly disappointed.
Analysis of the movements
Due to the unclear time of origin of most of Haydn’s symphonies - and unlike his 13 Italian operas, where we really know the exact dates of premieres and performances - detailed and correct name lists of the orchestral musicians cannot be given. As a rough outline, his symphony works can be divided into three temporal blocks. In the first block, in the service of Count Morzin (1757-1761), in the second block, the one at the court of the Esterházys (1761-1790 but with the last symphony for the Esterház audience in 1781) and the third block, the one after Esterház (1782-1795), i.e. in Paris and London. Just for this middle block at the court of the Esterházys 1761-1781 (the last composed symphony for the Esterház audience) respectively 1790, at the end of his service at the court of Esterház we can choose Haydn’s most important musicians and “long-serving companions” and thereby extract an "all-time - all-stars orchestra".
33 CDs, aufgenommen 1970 bis 1974, herausgegeben 1996 Decca (Universal)