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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

SCHERCHEN / The 1950s Haydn Symphonies Recordings

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Everyone wants to know me. I had to dine out six times up to now, and if I wanted I could have an invitation every day; but first I must consider my health, and second my work. Except for the nobility, I admit no callers till 2 in the afternoon.
These words, from private correspondence to a friend, describe Haydn’s welcome in London in early 1791. Haydn’s presence in the English capital had been arranged by the violinist-cum-impresario Johann Peter Salomon; Haydn’s secluded life as Kapellmeister to Prince Nikolaus Esterházy had hardly prepared him for the feverish musical and social activity in London.

Haydn’s fame in England, as in France, was based above all on his symphonies from the 1770s and 1780s, and the main part of his lucrative deal with Salomon was the composition of six new symphonies (Nos 93–98) over two seasons, for which he would receive £300—equal to approximately £25,000 today.

There are 12 so-called London Symphonies, and they can be categorized into two groups: Symphonies Nos. 93–98, which were composed during Haydn's first visit to London, and Symphonies Nos. 99–104, composed in Vienna and London for Haydn's second visit. Every London Symphony, apart from one (No. 95), has a slow introduction to the first movement.

This week’s share takes us back to my Once Upon the Internet series, and some downloads from the Japanese site Public Domain Classic and the Italian site LiberMusica – the latter still active.

Today’s featured conductor, Herrmann Schechen, was one of the 20th-century’s great new-music conductors yet he recorded an unusually wide range of repertoire, from the baroque to the contemporary.

Recorded in mono for the Westminster company between 1950 and 1953 Scherchen’s recordings of the 12 London symphonies with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra and Vienna Symphony are pioneer performances because, at a time when precious few took these works seriously, Scherchen granted them the time and care they deserved. The result is not just a worthy acknowledgement of Haydn’s historical importance, but a true realisation of his greatness. Scherchen turns out to be a classicist of humanity and warmth.

From these I retained three of the London symphonies – nos. 97, 102 and 103; 8 of the remaining 9 can be found on LiberMusica.

Happy Listening!


Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)

Symphony No.97 in C Major, Hob.I:97
Symphony No.102 in B-Flat Major, Hob.I:102 (*)
Symphony No.103 in E-Flat Major ('Drum Roll'), Hob.I:103

Wiener Symphoniker
Hermann Scherchen, conducting
Source: Public Domain Classic and LiberMusica (*)

Internet Archive URL - https://archive.org/details/10Sympho...03InEFlatMajor
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Categories
Classical Music , Composers , Conductors , Recorded Music

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