Symphony No. 18 in G major, Hob. I:18
Carl Maria von Weber:
Concerto for Bassoon in F major, Op. 75
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
La finta giardiniera, K. 196 – Overture
Symphony No. 44 in E minor (“Mourning”), Hob. I:44
About the event
Gábor Takács-Nagy, the BFO’s first guest conductor continues the orchestra’s Haydn-Mozart Plus with his usual skill and vigor. In addition to the overture of Mozart’s early opera, he conducts two symphonies by Haydn — one seldom played, the other very well-known and also linked to the composer’s death. Complementing these pieces of the two classics is a composition by the first significant representative of Romanticism, a major concerto in the history of the bassoon, performed by Gordon Fantini, one of the winners of the 2019 Sándor Végh competition. As one review put it, “His superior skills remind us that after Vivaldi, the bassoon is no longer a mere accompanying instrument”.
It has no nickname, it was not written in London and it is rarely performed––does it follow that it is worth less? Not all of the one hundred and four symphonies by Haydn could be equally popular, but all can be intriguing and brilliant. Symphony No. 18 is a three-movement work probably written some time before 1762, during the composer’s employment by Count Morzin. Unconventionally, a playful yet serene Andante and an expansive, elegant minuet frame a fast movement laced with horn signals. The whole is characterized by a simplicity of form with typical Haydnian sparks.
Second only to that by Mozart, Weber’s bassoon concerto composed in 1811 is the most often played work of its kind. When Weber visited Munich on a tour, he was beseeched by court musicians to write them new works, yet he only favored Georg Friedrich Brandt with a concerto. The opera composer remained true to himself: in the opening movement the orchestra introduces the soloist in an operatic style, the slow movement features a lyrical melody, and the finale crowns the concerto with catchy, virtuosic themes.
Apropos Munich and opera: Mozart’s La finta giardiniera (The Pretend Garden-Girl) was premiered in the same city in 1775. The overture to this unmistakably Mozartian opera (set to a very poor libretto) ended up as the first two movements of a symphony usually mentioned as his No. 51. The music can indeed be divided into two separate sections (fast and slow), and effectively introduces a typical comic opera with pseudonyms, love triangles, love spurned, and chases in the dark.
There is no hard evidence to support the story that Haydn asked for the slow movement of his Symphony No. 44 to be played at his funeral. It was, however, played at one of his memorial masses. The work completed in 1772 is typical of the passionate Sturm und Drang movement, consisting of a fiery, complex opening movement, a neat minuet, a slow movement reminiscent of suppressed longing and a finale ending in a dramatic minor key.
Did you know? Haydn composed his Symphony in G major between 1757 and 1759 and his Mourning Symphony in 1772, Weber’s bassoon concerto and the Mozart opera premiered on December 28, 1811 and January 13, 1775, respectively, both in Munich; the Festival Orchestra last payed the bassoon concerto in Budapest on November 28, 2010 (soloist: Mihály Duffek, conductor: Louis Langrée), the Mourning Symphony in Budapest on June 14, 2015 (conductor: Gábor Takács-Nagy), and will be performing the other two works now for the first time.
Contemporary events On the Mind, the opus magnum of French philosopher Claude Adrien Helvétius was published in 1758 / German composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach wrote his Sonata for Viola da Gamba in 1759 / In January 1811, the largest slave revolt in the history of the United States broke out in Louisiana / on November 21, 1811, German poet and playwright Heinrich von Kleist killed himself / The Barber of Seville, a play by French playwright Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was first performed in the Comédie-Française, Paris in 1775 / in 1775, the Bánffy Palace, an outstanding masterpiece of Transylvanian Baroque architecture, was erected in Kolozsvár / in 1772, Poland was divided for the first time between Russia, Prussia and Austria / Emilia Galotti, the five-act drama of German writer Gotthold Lessing was performed in Braunschweig on March 13, 1772