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Symphony No.39 in G Minor


Haydn's 39th Symphony was a most unexpected surprise for the audience who heard its first performance in the late 1760's. The stormy first movement made an unusually disturbing impression for the time with its often harsh harmonies, forceful sounds and strange silences. At the same time these effects were contrasted with lush and sumptuous sounds provided by the then rare orchestral combination of four horns. All these experiments foreshadowed the dramatic and sometimes quirky innovations of Haydn's later years. After that, the intimate, gentle and easy-going second movement came as a somewhat incongruous surprise, followed then by a Minuet and Trio of conventional proportions. Somehow Haydn was not yet able to make an overall symphonic development of the strange spark of originality of the first movement, but its sentiment returns in the Finale with its bold gestures and sudden strong dynamic contrasts. The scoring is for strings, two oboes, 4 horns and continuo.

Jon Tolansky

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