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Sunday, October 24, 2004
  Symphony No. 104 in D Major, Hob. I:104, Finale
Franz Joseph Haydn
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 7 Tracks 58-68

Haydn grabs our attention with a very soft yet resonate pedal 'D' in the low strings and brass. The violins then state the theme without harmony or counter melody. When they repeat the theme, with a counter melody, the listener is witness to how the event is put together. For the first several times I heard this movement I thought it was by Beethoven. In Beethoven's music there is often a working-out of the themes like this. But there is also something about the spirit of the theme that reminds me of Beethoven. It is only a few notes. Once learned, it is unmistakable. And it is fodder not for melodic inventiveness but dramatic and purely orchestral developments that inspire the listener to shake and hum.

Rounding out the First Viennese School, I'll tell you how this piece reminds me of Mozart: it has clarinets. Unlike Mozart's clarinets, these sticks seem like bell peppers in a hot chili. Not trusted under the spotlight, their job is to warm the high pitch of the flute and the piercing tone of the oboe.

The bassoon is another unsung hero of the modern orchestra. It gives the 'cello sound the ability to project, to cover more ground. And often, as at track 61, intermingles with the strings in interesting ways. The secondary theme we hear at this section has a foreshadowing of the Second Viennese School in its affection for a dissonant melodic leap. The bassoon has the most tangy leap of all and then works its way into a doubling of the viola part. 
Comments:
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In January 2004 I starting writing an opinion for each selection in the Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music. Now, more than a year later, I am almost finished. Soon, I will have an archive full of opinions on the music we so carelessly call "classical." And no one can stop me.

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Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

Director of the Contemporary Performer's Workshop... Music Teacher for St. Aloysius Gonzaga School... Principal 'Cellist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra... Composer

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