A Day in the Life of Haydn (concert viewable through July 22nd)
In the movie world, they say that sequels are usually disappointing cash-ins – but trilogies a mark of artistic ambition. Whether or not that’s true, classical music certainly has its share of ambitious trilogies, and in that connection it’s hard not to mention Haydn’s wonderful symphonies six (“Morning”), seven (“Afternoon”), and eight (“Evening”). Think Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, only somewhat less programmatic and somewhat more classical.
Haydn is sometimes called the Father of the Symphony, and this trilogy appears early in his symphonic career. It’s maybe for that reason they resemble the older concerto form as much as the modern symphony. In other words, there are virtuosic solos aplenty for the MCO’s musicians to sink their teeth into.
It goes without saying it’s been very tough not seeing our audience or players as much over the past year. So how nice for us to have this chance to shine the spotlight more directly on the MCO’s players. This concert is also notable for being filmed at Manitoba Theatre for Young People; a new setting in which to watch our players shine. Ivan Hughes, who shot our June 10th concert with Victoria Sparks, directs the videography here and uses the same atmospheric techniques – dollies, multi-camera set up, and so on – to create a sense of intimacy rarely experienced even in live concert settings.
It’ll be a superb and superbly captured concert, and we hope you’ll join us – and connect with us in the live chat section while the concert premieres! (And if you happen to miss the premiere, you still have two weeks afterward to view the concert through the same link.)
This is the sixth concert in our 2021 Spring and Summer Festival, and it’s been a joy to reconnect with you. We hope to connect with you at this eclectic concert as well.
Click below to add a Household Ticket to your cart (only one ticket required per household). This ticket allows you to invite up to five other households to view this event!
The concert begins at 7.30pm CDT on MCO's YouTube channel on July 1st. Household tickets for casual buyers are $20; all MCO subscribers are automatically given access to this concert. Click here to add a ticket to your cart (only one ticket required per household!) or call the MCO Ticketline 204-783-7377. The MCO will then send you a private link for accessing the concert a few days before the event. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
Click above to add Household Ticket to cart; only one ticket required per household; click ‘Continue Shopping’ for other tickets.
Manitoba Chamber Orchestra
Anne Manson, Music Director
Karl Stobbe, Concertmaster
1 July 2021 through 22 July 2021
Alexander Weimann, conductor
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 6 in D Major, ‘le matin’ (Morning)
- Adagio – Allegro
- Menuet & Trio
- Finale: Allegro
Symphony No. 7 in C Major, ‘le midi’ (Noon)
- Adagio – Allegro
- Recitativo: Adagio
- Menuetto & Trio
- Finale: Allegro
Symphony No. 8 in G Major, ‘le soir’ (Evening)
- Allegro molto
- Menuetto & Trio
- La tempesta: Presto
Volunteer Sponsor / MB Liquor Mart
MCO at Home sponsor / Christianson Wealth Advisors, National Bank Financial
Alexander Weimann is one of the most sought-after ensemble directors, soloists, and chamber music partners of his generation. After traveling the world with ensembles like Tragicomedia, the Freiburger Barockorchester, and Tafelmusik, he now serves as Artistic Director of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and music director of Les Voix Baroques, Le Nouvel Opéra and Montreal-based Tempo Rubato.
He has often conducted the Victoria Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia, and recently conducted Ensemble Arion, Les Violons du Roy, and the Portland Baroque Orchestra. He has regularly appeared as featured soloist with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.
Alexander Weimann can be heard on some 100 CDs. He made his North American recording debut with Tragicomedia on Capritio (Harmonia Mundi USA), and won worldwide critical and public acclaim for his 2001 release of Handel’s Gloria (ATMA Classique). Volume 1 of his recordings of the complete keyboard works by Alessandro Scarlatti appeared in 2005. Critics around the world unanimously praised it, and in 2006 it was nominated for an Opus Prize as best Canadian early music recording. He released an Opus Award-winning CD of Handel oratorio arias with superstar soprano Karina Gauvin and Tempo Rubato, a recording of Bach’s St. John’s Passion, and various albums with Les Voix Baroques of Buxtehude, Carissimi and Purcell, all with rave reviews. His latest album with Karina Gauvin and Arion Baroque Orchestra (Prima Donna) won a Juno Award in 2013, and a complete recording of Handel’s Orlando was also released that year.
Alexander Weimann was born in Munich, where he studied the organ, church music, musicology, theatre, medieval Latin, and jazz piano. He recently moved to the Vancouver area with his wife, three children and pets, and tries to spend as much time as possible in his garden and kitchen.
Symphony No. 6 in D Major, ‘Le matin’ (Morning)
Haydn composed the majority of his first fifteen or so symphonies during the three-year period he spent in the service of his first employer, the Bohemian nobleman Count Karl Joseph Franz von Morzin. In 1761, after Count Morzin disbanded his orchestra due to financial difficulties, Haydn took up the position of Vice-Kapellmeister to the Esterházy family. His numerous responsibilities included composing operas, symphonies, chamber and vocal music, recruiting and leading the court orchestra, and maintaining the ensemble’s music library.
Having a superb orchestra to work with was a crucial tool in his quest to expand the contents and meaning of the symphony as a musical form. What more could a composer ask than to have his new pieces played immediately by a crack ensemble? In gratitude to his players, Haydn composed numerous pieces designed to showcase the superb individual performing skills possessed by many of them. These included not only the expected concertos, but also orchestral works incorporating important solo passages. Symphonies 6, 7 and 8 (let’s call them the ‘Hours of the Day’ trilogy) which date from the first year of what proved to be his lifelong association with the Esterházys, belong to the latter category.
These immensely colourful and inventive works launched Haydn’s relationship with the Esterházys in brilliant fashion. His employers must surely have recognized that in their new Vice-Kapellmeister they had been fortunate enough to secure one of the finest musical minds in Europe.
In terms of style they look both backward, to the Baroque concerto grosso (grand concerto), with its multiple soloists, and forward, both to the grand symphonies of Haydn’s maturity and to the symphonie concertante, a hybrid of symphony and concerto that would emerge during the following decade and maintain its popularity throughout Europe for some 60 years. Haydn composed his single formal contribution to the genre—featuring solo roles for oboe, bassoon, violin and cello—in 1792.
As with many Haydn symphonies, uncertainties exist regarding the source and authenticity of the nicknames by which the ‘Hours of the Day’ works have long been known. Some authorities cite the first of the two Esterházys for whom Haydn worked, Prince Paul Anton, as the one who named them. A possible explanation of the names themselves is their being performed at different times of the day in the magnificent palaces that the Esterházys maintained in and around Vienna.
Listeners seeking direct connections between the music and the nicknames might be disappointed, at least in the fully pictorial, nineteenth-century programmatic sense. Several instances are quite credible. It may be that other, intended examples of programmatic content are no longer recognizable to modern ears.
Symphony No. 6 begins with a brief introduction in slow tempo that might be taken as a depiction of sunrise. The first movement continues with a brisk, cheerful Allegro spotlighting solo flute and solo horn. The eloquent second movement, from which Haydn excluded the wind instruments, is virtually a double concerto for violin and cello.
The following Minuet is a decidedly stately, non-rustic affair in the French manner of the day. The central Trio section sports a melancholy, almost grotesque dialogue between bassoon and double bass. Violin and cello return to centre stage in the merry, dance-like Finale. Haydn here called upon the first violin (the part was written for his orchestra’s brilliant Concertmaster, Luigi Tomasini) to display particular virtuosity.
Symphony No. 7 in C Major, ‘Le midi’ (Noon)
The Symphony No. 7 is the most experimental of the ‘Hours of the Day’ trilogy. Once again Haydn begins with a slow introduction, this time longer and more ceremonial than the one in No. 6. He features numerous instruments (violins, cello, winds), in solo roles in the Allegro, but not the flutes, which remain silent for the moment.
The two sections of the second movement, Recitativo, resemble an introduction and aria from an opera. In the Recitativo, the solo violin takes the spotlight for some serious dramatics, complete with abrupt shifts in mood, tempo and dynamics. Haydn then moves without pause into the second section, Adagio. The flutes enter to maximum, consoling effect, or to quote the noted scholar H.C. Robbins Landon, “… the soft warmth of the flutes is like the sudden and unexpected release of a damned spirit who is now free, like Orpheus, to walk in the Elysian fields.” This relaxing, soulful music is the longest portion of the symphony. Violin and cello take centre stage; towards the close, Haydn gives them a lengthy, fully written-out, concerto-like duo cadenza. The third movement is an elegant Minuet. Solo double bass is once again featured in the Trio, this time in more amiable music than Haydn gave it Symphony No. 6. A major lineup of solo instruments is featured in the delightful, dashing Finale.
Symphony No. 8 in G Major, ‘Le soir’ (Evening)
The final symphony in the ‘Hours of the Day’ trilogy is the most compact of the three, as well as the least soloistic. It is unique in the trilogy in lacking a slow introduction. Instead, Haydn flings us directly into the midst of a cheery Allegro molto. Unusually, the first movement has only one theme, initiating a practice that Haydn would continue in selected symphonic movements right up to the final ‘London’ Symphonies. He scored the emotionally enigmatic, exquisitely beautiful second movement for strings and bassoon alone.
The ensuing Minuet lies closest to popular style of any in the trilogy. The double bass is featured in the Trio. Haydn himself subtitled the Finale La tempesta (The Storm). This is an example of the type of direct programmatic description that was extremely popular during the preceding Baroque era. It echoes similar pages in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, published in 1725 and a great favourite of Prince Paul Anton Esterházy. Haydn used the flute to portray lightning, as he would do again 40 years later in his oratorio The Seasons. This is the only movement of the symphony to feature solo instruments in a major way, with two violins and cello given special prominence.
Maya de Forest