Sunday Classics: Horns, glorious horns -- Hadyn lets 'em loose in his "Horn Signal" Symphony
With the horn section of the Minnesota Orchestra -- Michael Gast, Brian Jensen, Ellen Dinwiddie Smith, and Michael Petruconis -- joining the Minneapolis-based Kenwood Symphony Orchestra and music director Yuri Ivan, we hear the opening of the first movement of Haydn's "Horn Signal" Symphony (No. 31).
Our listening to Handel's Royal Fireworks Music and especially his Water Music last week has lodged the wonderful sound of horns in my head, as reflected in Friday night's flashback and last night's preview.
There are countless ways we could go once the subject is orchestral horns -- and I am thinking particularly of horns, plural, because while one horn is a precious gift to composers (perhaps someday we'll take a listen to memorable orchestral horn solos), a pair of horns (or, piling it on, two pairs of horns; as we learn in the video clip in the click-through, [WARNING: VIDEO-CLIP SPOILER AHEAD] there are four symphonies in which Haydn used two pairs of horns, Nos. 13, 31, 39, and 72) is a limitless treasure, a gift that keeps on giving. For the sake of sanity, we're going to focus today on one target: Franz Josef Haydn's Symphony No. 31, known as the Horn Signal for reasons that should be pretty obvious.
HAYDN: Symphony No. 31 in D (Horn Signal)
Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, Adam Fischer, cond. Nimbus/Brilliant, recorded Apr.-May 2001
Even in Haydn's vast and staggeringly remarkable output, this symphony is special. In the compacted CD version of his liner note for the Dorati-Decca recording of the complete Haydn symphonies, the great Haydn scholar H. C. Robbins Landon writes that "for those familiar with the rest of Haydn's oeuvre,"
there is something particularly poignant about this "Hornsignal" Symphony, whose perfect construction and gay, light-hearted language, as yet untroubled with the accents of Sturm und Drang [although there are a heap of other Haydn symphonies that could bear the designation, it's most often applied to the six numbered 44-49 -- Ed.] represent in some indefinable way Haydn's farewell to youth, for in the next decades he was never quite able to recapture the deep-seated joy and innocence of this music.
TO ENJOY "THE DEEP-SEATED JOY AND
INNOCENCE OF THIS MUSIC," CLICK HERE