B flat major
Sinfonien um 1770-1774
Herausgeber: Andreas Friesenhagen und Ulrich Wilker; Reihe I, Band 5b; 2013, G. Henle Verlag München
Symphony No. 51 in B flat major
Though less expressive than Nos. 45-47, this symphony is no less original or eccentric. In the opening Vivace, the main theme has three parts: a vigorous forte unison gesture, a quiet continuation for strings alone, and a mysterious low unison motive for strings and second horn, which ends off the tonic, on D. The entire complex is repeated, whereby the horn D becomes the dominant of G minor; this introduces the vigorous transition, which leads seamlessly into the equally vigorous second group. Only later do we hear a quiet, contrasting theme; in its extension, however, the contrasts of material and dynamics become eccentric in the extreme.
The development surprisingly takes up the concluding phrase of the exposition, leading eventually to a 'false recapitulation' of the main theme in the subdominant, and then to much of the second group in again G minor. As the quiet theme is about to cadence, Haydn interrupts with a chromatic passage that leads yet again to D in the bass, harmonized as the tonic in first inversion whereupon, as if nothing unusual were happening, the second phrase of the opening theme enters, and we find ourselves in the middle of the recapitulation.
The sonata-form Adagio in E flat features remarkable solos for the two horns: the first horn leads an eight-bar theme in the tonic, dizzyingly high, then the second horn modulates to the dominant, unfathomably low (with 'stopped' notes). The first oboe joins in, and the relatively brief second group soon cadences, with chromatic colouring in the codetta. The development begins with new solos for the oboe, then the two horns, now together; a long, ruminating passage for strings alone leads to the recapitulation. This is much altered: the second (low) horn solo is replaced by a new, more active one; the second group returns sooner, but is then much extended, including a written-out cadenza for the strings.
Like the minuet in No. 47, this one is based on a gimmick. It is only sixteen bars long (8+8); the bass comprises eight successive statements of the same two-bar motive, at different pitch-levels, which an Esterházy set of parts reproduces as a 'cipher' for the amusement of the players. It is unique in Haydn's symphonic oeuvre in having two trios (see the 'Historical Note'.)
The symphony ends with one of Haydn's earliest variation finales (in this case, a more precise designation would be 'variation-rondo': certain 'variations' are in different keys and present new thematic ideas). The artlessly 'kittenish' theme (as Tovey would have called it) for strings alone harbours (as always) a wealth of art; the first, third, and fifth variations add new effects of dynamics and instrumentation. The second variation, in E flat, is a solo for the first oboe, while the fourth is a surprisingly passionate outburst in G minor. Following the fifth variation comes a brief coda, eccentric to the end.
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".
|Flute||Franz Sigl 1761-1773|
|Flute||Zacharias Hirsch 1777-1790|
|Oboe||Michael Kapfer 1761-1769|
|Oboe||Georg Kapfer 1761-1770|
|Oboe||Anton Mayer 1782-1790|
|Oboe||Joseph Czerwenka 1784-1790|
|Bassoon||Johann Hinterberger 1761-1777|
|Bassoon||Franz Czerwenka 1784-1790|
|Bassoon||Joseph Steiner 1781-1790|
|Horn (played violin)||Franz Pauer 1770-1790|
|Horn (played violin)||Joseph Oliva 1770-1790|
|Timpani or Bassoon||Caspar Peczival 1773-1790|
|Violin||Luigi Tomasini 1761-1790|
|Violin (leader 2. Vl)||Johann Tost 1783-1788|
|Violin||Joseph Purgsteiner 1766-1790|
|Violin||Joseph Dietzl 1766-1790|
|Violin||Vito Ungricht 1777-1790|
|Violin (most Viola)||Christian Specht 1777-1790|
|Cello||Anton Kraft 1779-1790|
|Violone||Carl Schieringer 1768-1790|
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