B flat major
Londoner Sinfonien, 4. Folge
Herausgeber: Hubert Unverricht; Reihe I, Band 18; G. Henle Verlag München
Hob.I:102 Symphony in B-Flat Major
Haydn wrote his last three symphonies (Nos. 102-104) during the second half of his second stay in London for the Opera Concerts, which Johann Peter Salomon initiated in 1795 with several leading London musicians after his own concert series, the Salomon Concerts, were discontinued. The concert master of the orchestra was the famous violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti, for whom the extensive violin solo in Symphony No. 103 was intended. The Symphony in B-Flat Major (No. 102), the first of this group of three, was published on 2 February 1795 in the scope of a series of events whose concerts took place at the Haymarket Theatre. The first movement is grand and, like most of the London Symphonies, begins with a slow introduction. The original secondary theme dominates the movement; worth particular mention are the elaborate contrapuntal developments in the middle section, the development. After transposition to F-sharp major the slow movement (F major) is encountered in the Piano Trio in F-Sharp Minor (Hob. XV: 26), likewise written in 1795. This is presumably a tribute by Haydn to his admirer Mrs. Schroeter, who found the movement to the symphony extraordinary and to whom the piano trio is dedicated. There is a palpable contradiction between the merry minuet and its melancholy trio. The presto finale, again a sonata rondo, is another merry kehraus marked by humorous effects. The composer works here with short motifs which he kaleidoscopically whirls around in brilliant combinations of sound. No. 102 should actually carry the name The Miracle, for the incident which brought Symphony No. 96 of 1791 the name actually occurred in 1795, as later research has demonstrated.
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)
Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra
33 CDs, aufgenommen 1987 bis 2001, herausgegeben 1996