Conducted by Bernard Haitink, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra performs Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, commonly known as the “Haffner” Symphony. Concertmaster: Vesko Eschkenazy, the Bulgarian violinist.
Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 “Haffner”
The Symphony No. 35 in D major, K. 385, commonly known as the “Haffner” Symphony, is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most celebrated works. Composed in 1782, the symphony was originally written as a serenade for the ennoblement ceremony of Sigmund Haffner, a friend of the Mozart family from Salzburg. However, Mozart later revised the composition, transforming it into the symphony we know today. The piece was premiered in Vienna, a city where Mozart spent much of his adult life and where he achieved considerable fame.
The “Haffner” Symphony stands as a hallmark of Mozart’s mature symphonic style, representing a balance between the formal elegance of the Classical period and the emotional depth that hints at the coming Romantic era. Like many of Mozart’s compositions, it has a bright, cheerful character, especially evident in the sparkling key of D major. The symphony is admired for its melodic inventiveness, intricate counterpoint, and lively rhythms.
The work has been well-received since its premiere, and over the years, it has become a staple of the orchestral repertoire. It often features in the programs of symphony orchestras worldwide and has been extensively recorded. Its popularity also reflects the wider admiration for Mozart’s genius, capturing both the spirit of its time and qualities that make it timeless.
With start times in the video:
- 00:49 Allegro con spirito
- 09:25 Andante
- 15:33 Menuetto
- 18:33 Presto
1. Allegro con spirit
The first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, known as the “Haffner” Symphony, is set in D major and is structured in sonata-allegro form, a common format for first movements in symphonies of the Classical era. The movement opens with a festive and grand introduction that features lively rhythms and bold fanfare-like elements, setting an upbeat and regal tone. This initial section is often characterized by its brilliance and serves to capture the listener’s attention immediately.
After this arresting introduction, the movement transitions to the exposition section, where the main thematic material is presented. In traditional sonata-allegro form, the exposition introduces at least two contrasting themes. In the case of the “Haffner,” the first theme is energetic and upbeat, continuing the mood set by the introduction. The second theme offers contrast, typically being more lyrical and serene, although still within the overall optimistic framework of the piece.
The development section follows, in which Mozart intricately explores and manipulates the themes introduced earlier. The composer’s skill in counterpoint and harmonic invention is particularly noticeable here. The development section serves as a journey that dissects, recombines, and elaborates on the initial thematic material.
After the development, the recapitulation returns to the original themes, albeit often with variations and added complexity. This return to familiar ground often provides a sense of resolution and completeness.
Finally, a coda may appear, serving to round off the movement by revisiting elements of the opening and bringing the music to a conclusive and satisfying close. In the “Haffner,” the coda maintains the vibrant energy that pervades the rest of the movement.
Throughout the first movement, Mozart’s skillful orchestration, melodic creativity, and structural finesse are abundantly evident, making it a classic example of his genius and a staple in the orchestral repertoire.
The second movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, the “Haffner,” offers a distinct contrast to the energetic and festive character of the first movement. It’s generally slower in tempo, providing a more lyrical and introspective moment within the overall structure of the symphony. Set in a different key from the first movement, this movement usually features a more restrained orchestration, which allows for greater emotional nuance and expression.
Commonly written in a ternary (ABA) or sonata form, the second movement showcases Mozart’s skill in crafting long, flowing melodic lines that evoke a sense of grace and poise. It starts off with a softer, more introspective main theme that serves as an emotional counterpoint to the exuberance of the first movement. This theme is often characterized by its beauty and simplicity, allowing for an emotionally rich musical landscape.
The contrasting middle section or development, depending on the specific form used, may introduce new thematic material or rework the initial theme in inventive ways. It offers an opportunity to explore different moods or textures, sometimes featuring solos or smaller ensemble groupings within the orchestra for a more intimate feel.
As the movement progresses toward its conclusion, it typically returns to the main theme, offering a sense of resolution and emotional closure. This return often brings with it variations in dynamics or orchestration, imbuing the familiar melodies with added depth or perspective.
The second movement serves as an essential component of the symphony, offering balance and emotional complexity. Its more subdued character makes it a foil to the other, more extroverted movements, adding to the overall depth and versatility of the symphony as a whole. Like the first movement, the second is a testament to Mozart’s skill in blending form and feeling, contributing to the enduring appeal of the “Haffner” Symphony.
The third movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, the “Haffner,” is typically a minuet and trio, adhering to the Classical tradition of symphonic structure. Minuets originally were court dances, and by Mozart’s time, they had become a standard movement in the symphonies and string quartets of the Classical era. However, Mozart often elevated the form beyond its dance origins, infusing it with greater complexity and emotional depth.
In the case of the “Haffner” Symphony, the minuet is generally stately and elegant, keeping with the character of a dance but also offering more than just a simple diversion. The music is often robust and full-bodied, making use of the entire orchestra to create a sense of grandeur. The thematic material usually has a rhythmic pulse that recalls its dance origins but may also include contrapuntal elements or harmonic surprises that reveal the composer’s inventiveness.
The Trio section that follows the minuet provides a contrasting character, typically lighter in texture and mood. This section often features fewer instruments or highlights different sections of the orchestra, creating a more intimate musical conversation. The thematic material here may contrast sharply with the minuet, or it may offer a more relaxed version of the same musical ideas.
After the Trio, the minuet usually returns, often without significant alteration, to round off the movement. This ABA (Minuet – Trio – Minuet) structure is characteristic of the minuet and trio form and offers a sense of balance and symmetry.
The third movement serves multiple roles within the symphony as a whole. It acts as a palette cleanser between the often dramatic first and second movements and the usually fast-paced final movement, but it also adds its own layer of emotional and structural complexity to the symphony. As with the other movements of the “Haffner,” Mozart’s craftsmanship is evident in both the composition and orchestration, revealing a master at work.
The finale of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 is generally a fast-paced finale that brings the symphony to a triumphant close. Often composed in a sonata-allegro or rondo form, this movement serves as a culmination of the musical and emotional journey initiated by the earlier movements. It frequently returns to the spirited, vivacious character found in the opening movement, offering a sense of symmetry and closure to the symphony as a whole.
The movement typically bursts forth with energetic themes, often characterized by rapid scales, arpeggios, or lively rhythmic patterns. The bright orchestration, full of strings, winds, and brass, contributes to the jubilant atmosphere. The rapid tempo and intricate rhythmic elements often give the movement a virtuosic flair, highlighting the technical skill of the orchestra.
The contrasting secondary themes or episodes, depending on the specific form used, usually maintain the overall high energy but might offer melodic or rhythmic contrasts. These sections serve to deepen the emotional content of the movement while providing a brief respite from the relentless forward drive.
As the movement progresses, it usually revisits earlier thematic material either in a recapitulation, in the case of a sonata-allegro form, or in recurring episodes if it’s a rondo. These returns often include variations, elaborations, or heightened dynamics that enhance their impact, creating a sense of growing excitement and momentum.
The finale often concludes with a coda that serves to wrap up not just the movement but the symphony as a whole. This is typically a place for Mozart to unleash a final burst of orchestral brilliance, tying together the various musical threads while providing a conclusive, satisfying end.
- Symphony No. 35 (Mozart) on Wikipedia
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