Haydn Symphony No. 25 in C (H. I/25)

performed by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra under Adam Fischer, or below with the Philharmonia Hungarica and Antal Dorati


Phew. Good thing this symphony is awesome, because they were starting to seem a little similar. There are a few notable differences with today’s work. While in C major, the piece has no trumpet or timpani, and lacks a slow movement.

Interestingly, though, it does begin with a 4/4 adagio which lasts for more than two minutes and reaches quite a big climax, but it’s not right then that we move to the allegro molto, as you might have been holding your breath for. Nope. But it’s coming. This is one of the more sublime moments in my recollection of Haydn’s early work, but it’s not all slow. This, mayhaps, is the ‘slow movement’ of the work, at least as close as we get, because what comes after is awesome.

This is the allegro molto. It sounds symphonic! There sounds to be physical space and interaction on many more levels with this symphony. It’s crunchy, driving, exciting, exhilarating even. The 16th-note runs are breathtaking, commanding,

Even the minuet is pretty energetic and filled out for a minuet, and in the trio, we actually hear not just horns by themselves, but the oboe! Over pizzicato strings, it’s a nice effect, and a sign that, just maybe, things are getting more exciting for future symphonies.

And they get even more exciting for the finale, marked presto, in 2/4. The crunchy 16th note bits from the first movement come back here in even greater ways, and we jump right into it here, with roaring low strings, contrasts of dynamics, repeated notes in horns, syncopation, all of it. The high strings lead with a crunchy upward clicking line, echoed in basses. I love this. It’s creative and fresh and exciting.

The unique layout of a long, slow introduction preceding a symphony with no slow movement is an interesting one, but it keeps the tension building and the energy high. It might not be a pinnacle of innovation, but it’s something new.

Just one more for the week, then we’re moving on. I promise.

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