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Haydn after Handel

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Denis McCaldin Denis McCaldin | 00:45 UK time, Saturday, 11 April 2009

dennis_brain.jpgIt's quite natural that this first full week following the actual anniversary of Handel's death on 3rd April 1759 should be dominated by his fine music. Radio 3 seems to be doing him proud, which is OK - but it also means there is less room for others!
Haydn, for instance, gets nothing until Through the Night after Easter Monday - after which things pick up a little.
Wednesday's Classical Collection begins at 10.00 am with a Nikolaus Harnoncourt recording of Symphony No 30 in C - and by the end of the week, there is much more to enjoy, including two versions of No 31.

For example, two of my favourite Haydn quartets appear on Thursday - The Sunrise, and the Lark. We travel to last year's Music@Menlo festival for the Lunchtime Concert which concludes with the Escher Quartet playing Haydn's Op 76 No 4 (The Sunrise). I've talked about the business of nicknames for Haydn's works before, but this is one of the most appropriate. When you hear the leader's melody travel from the low G string to the top of the instrument, it's easy to imagine the sun climbing upwards in the morning sky, and see therefore how the quartet got its name. And as so often with Haydn's mature music, that's only the beginning! The theme is put through its paces, with a mirror version in the cello used as the 'second' theme, and a wonderfully doleful solo for the viola in the coda. If you're a night-owl, Through the Night has the other work I mentioned, Op 64 No 5 (The Lark) at 3.42 am.

Horn players are well served on Friday, with two versions of Haydn's famous Symphony No 31 (The Hornsignal). They begin and end the morning's Classical Collection.
I'm hoping James Jolly will have some interesting things to say about this amazing four-horn piece, and about the pioneering recording by Dennis Brain that opens the programme. Haydn at his imaginative best!


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