Haydn Symphony no. 27 G major, H. I/27

performed by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra under Adam Fischer, or below by the Academy of Ancient music under Christopher Hogwood (I enjoy Fischer’s much more)


So here we are again with another Haydn symphony. As I mentioned yesterday, Haydn’s catalogue is not as cleanly ordered and organized as many people may seem to think, so we jump from no. 5 some time ago, to 18 yesterday, to 27 today, which is roughly in line with what the chronological ordering would be. In any case, Eusebius Mandyczewski (who should get his own Influential People article eventually) got much of the chronology correct, but there were some errors. This is one.

There’s a section in the Wikipedia article about the nickname ‘Hermannstädter,’ due to the belief that the work was a new discovery, and was recorded as such until it was shown not to be so. 

The piece “was probably written before 1760,” and is in three movements. In contrast with no. 18 yesterday, this one starts off bright and energetically from the get go, like something to get you out of bed in the morning.

The first movement, marked allegro molto, indeed is. The horns in this work were later apparently later added to oboes and bassoons as the only winds in the work. Despite the small forces in the piece, the color and variety of sound is really impressive. Any lover of the film Amadeus might remember the Mozart symphony that opens the film, the first movement of his 25th symphony. Haydn uses similar syncopated strings, but here in a major key. It’s energetic and light but also driving. There’s also a lot of dynamic range in this piece, and all of this gives the first movement real vibrance. It might be one of my favorite Haydn movements in all the symphonies we’ve discussed so far.

The second movement is an andante Siciliano in 6/8. It’s quiet, and pleasant, with pizzicato in the background, and is apparently very Italian. I wouldn’t know. Wiki says:

Robbins Landon describes the movement “as Italian an andante as was ever composed in Naples or Palermo”.

I’ll take his word for it. In any case, it’s a quiet, pleasant, stately thing, very nice for a slow movement, not torpid, with enough play of light and shadow to keep things interesting. It’s in C major, but there are some darker passages. You’ll notice there are no winds of any kind in this movement, only strings, giving it the quaint, smaller pleasantness in contrast to the bigness of the sound in the first movement.

The final movement is also in triple meter, 3/8, but marked presto, and it too is terribly  delightful. It is I think a fitting end to this small, compact little symphony. While Haydn likely did not have any programmatic intentions behind it, it seems to embody the energetic liveliness of the first movement with quaint triple-ness of the middle movement, making for a compact, well-written little package of an early symphony.

The melodies are sweet, the developments simple, the movements short, this symphony coming in (for this recording) at under 14 minutes. I suppose, then, my equally short article should come as no real surprise. In poking around Haydn’s early symphonies, I’ve come across some that really do not inspire me, but I’d say this is one of the most delightful so far. Only one more Haydn symphony left for the week before we actually get to our first SQS post on Saturday! Stay tuned.

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