Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Haydn soirée

This was a little concert at Stanford advertised as if it were a genuine period meet-Haydn reception in London, with a period-style handbill and a program with titles taken from the original publications. Persons of varying speaking abilities but without costumes read introductions to the music in the personae of Haydn's impresario, J.P. Salomon, and various patrons.

The music was all chamber music, some of it vocal, from Haydn's London period. Some folksong settings, of the kind Beethoven would later take over, were quite effective, and the slow movement of the Piano Trio No. 25 was unusual and interesting.

The big work on the program was an arrangement by Salomon for piano trio - with some extras - of the "Surprise" Symphony. As usual with piano-and-strings works of the time, the piano carried the burden of the work, with the strings giving mostly added counterpoint. But as Anthony Martin's violin was louder than George Barth's early fortepiano, this got turned upside down.

One extra was the addition of a flute traverso to the finale. The other was having the big "surprise" chord from the slow movement reinforced by having someone whack a big bass drum in the back of the room.

Held in a tiny rehearsal hall in the music department. I got there early suspecting that seating would all be taken well before the concert began, and it was.

This is the kickoff to a Haydn festival that's taking up most of the rest of the week; unfortunately, I have to skip all the lectures and can make only one of the main-sequence concerts.

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