Charles Mackerras

Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 31 "Hornsignal" & 45 "Farewell"

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Haydn's Symphony No. 31 is known as the "Hornsignal" from its prominent horn parts in the first and last movements. Written in anticipation of palace-warming festivities at the Eszterháza estate, the symphony has a celebratory air in its bold fanfares and hunting calls. Haydn's originality is evident not only in his clever motivic development of these ideas, but also in his placement of the horn pairs at a distance from each other. Haydn's experimentation was unusual for its time, but it shows some of the freedom he enjoyed as Prince Nicholas' court composer. The Symphony No. 45, dubbed "Farewell" from the musicians' calculated exits in the closing Adagio, is darker in tone than the previous work. Influenced by the Sturm und Drang movement of the mid-eighteenth century -- the first flowering of what would later become Romanticism -- the symphony is melancholy and more dramatic than might be expected from Haydn's usually sunny output. Sir Charles Mackerras has achieved a pleasant compromise between conventional and historical approaches in playing these Classical works. While the performances of the Orchestra of St. Luke's are on modern instruments that give great warmth of tone, the ensemble's number is small and the seating arrangement with a prominent continuo follows the best research on Haydn's practice.

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