The Esterhazy Machine | Haydn Baryton Divertimenti, Vol. 1

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Haydn Baryton Divertimenti, Vol. 1

by The Esterhazy Machine

Forming a little-known but nonetheless fascinating part of Joseph Haydn’s prolific instrumental output are the more than 170 works he composed for baryton, the favorite instrument of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy “the Magnificent."
Genre: Classical: Chamber Music
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Baryton Trio in A Major, Hob. XI:35: I. Adagio
3:24 $0.99
2. Baryton Trio in A Major, Hob. XI:35: II. Allegro di molto
2:39 $0.99
3. Baryton Trio in A Major, Hob. XI:35: III. Menuet
3:13 $0.99
4. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: I. Adagio cantabile
8:06 $0.99
5. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: II. Allegro di molto
3:44 $0.99
6. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: III. Menuet
3:17 $0.99
7. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: IV. Polonaise
1:46 $0.99
8. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: V. Adagio
1:36 $0.99
9. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: VI. Menuet
2:18 $0.99
10. Baryton Trio in D Major, Hob. XI:97: VII. Fuga. Presto
1:33 $0.99
11. Baryton Trio in G Major, Hob. XI:124: I. Moderato
7:12 $0.99
12. Baryton Trio in G Major, Hob. XI:124: II. Menuet
3:30 $0.99
13. Baryton Trio in G Major, Hob. XI:124: III. Finale. Presto
2:21 $0.99
14. Baryton Trio in A Minor, Hob. XI:87: I. Adagio
6:48 $0.99
15. Baryton Trio in A Minor, Hob. XI:87: II. Allegro di molto
2:59 $0.99
16. Baryton Trio in A Minor, Hob. XI:87: III. Menuet
3:12 $0.99
17. Baryton Trio in C Major, Hob. XI:101: I. Allegro
4:53 $0.99
18. Baryton Trio in C Major, Hob. XI:101: II. Menuet
2:24 $0.99
19. Baryton Trio in C Major, Hob. XI:101: III. Finale. Fuga
1:48 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) was born in the obscure market village of Rohrau, some thirty miles southeast of Vienna, near the present-day Austrian/Hungarian border. He spent his first six decades within roughly forty miles of his birthplace. Then, in 1791 and again in 1794, he traveled to England, where he was hailed in London and given an honorary doctorate at Oxford. By the last decade of his life (spent primarily in Vienna), he had become, thanks to an international celebrity fueled by a burgeoning music publishing industry, the most famous composer the world had ever known. Although Haydn, author of 104 symphonies and 68 string quartets, has been lauded as the “father” of both these genres, his sublime oratorios, Masses, operas, and songs show that his genius was no less fertile when turned to vocal composition.
Forming a little-known but nonetheless fascinating part of his prolific instrumental output are the numerous works he composed for baryton, the favorite instrument of Prince Nicolaus Esterházy “the Magnificent” (reigned 1762-1790), the second of four princes from Hungary’s richest and most influential noble family that Haydn served from around 1761 until the end of his life. Nicolaus, an extravagant patron of the arts whose palace complex at Eszterháza in western Hungary included an opera house and a marionette theater, played cello, viola da gamba, and violin, but was particularly captivated by the baryton, which Leopold Mozart, Wolfgang’s father, described as “one of the most charming of instruments. Like the gamba, it has six or seven strings. It has, however, a very wide neck, the back of which is hollow and open and into which nine or ten brass and steel strings are inserted, which may be plucked by the thumb while the principal part is played with the bow on the gut strings.” These un-fingered wire strings also vibrate sympathetically with the bowed strings. Mozart claims: “The word baryton comes from the Italian Bordone, which means a tenor voice; and means also a large string, a drone, and the soft humming of bees. He who knows this instrument will agree that the word Bordone rightly describes its tone.”
Nicolaus the Magnificent, enchanted by the gently buzzing sounds of the instrument, brought several baryton players to his court, and learned to play himself with a certain, though limited, degree of proficiency. Most importantly, his devotion to the instrument led the composers of his musical establishment to create new works for it. While names such as Luigi Tomasini, Joseph Burgksteiner, and Andreas Lidl are known only to connoisseurs, Haydn’s more than 170 works for the baryton have assured the instrument its place, however modest, in music history. In 1805, Haydn told Albert Christoph Dies a revealing story about how he became involved with the baryton in the mid-1760s:

“Prince Nicolaus loved music, and himself played the baryton, which in his opinion should be limited to only one key. Haydn could not be sure about this, because he had only a very superficial knowledge of the instrument. Still, he believed it must lend itself to several keys. While Haydn, unknown to the Prince, was conducting an investigation into the nature of the instrument, he acquired a liking for it and practiced it, late at night because he had no other time, with a view to becoming a good player. To be sure he was often interrupted in his nocturnal studies by the scolding and quarreling of his wife, but he did not lose his patience, and in six months attained his goal. The Prince still knew nothing. Haydn could resist a touch of vanity no longer. He played openly in the presence of the Prince, in several keys, expecting to earn no end of applause. The Prince, however, was not at all surprised, took the thing as a matter of course, and said merely, ‘You’re supposed to know these things, Haydn!’ I understood the Prince perfectly, Haydn told me, and although at first I was hurt by his indifference, still I owe it to his curt reminder that I suddenly gave up the intention of being a good baryton player. I remembered that I had already made my reputation as a Kapellmeister and not as a practicing virtuoso, reproached myself for half a year’s neglect of composition, and returned to it with zeal renewed.”

Haydn’s compositions for the baryton include duets, quintets, and octets, but the vast majority of his output for the instrument, 123 trios, pair it with viola and cello to create a unique-sounding ensemble in which the sonorities of the instruments are so closely matched that at times it is difficult to distinguish which player actually has the leading voice. (The ranges of the three instruments overlap considerably, making it possible for each to play, in rapid alternation, the melody, the accompaniment, or the bass line.) In deference to the technical limitations of his employer, Haydn was rather circumspect in his use of plucking with the left thumb, forsaking it entirely in over half of the trios, and making limited use of it in the others. His late-night experiments taught him that, contrary to the Prince’s preconception (presumably based on the fact that the plucked strings of his baryton were tuned to the notes of the D major scale), several other keys were also quite possible on the instrument, provided that the plucked strings were used with discretion, or even avoided altogether. In the latter case, the sonic halo provided by the soft sympathetic vibrations of the metal strings would remain to give the baryton’s voice its peculiar resonance. All but thirteen of Haydn’s trios are in D, A, and G major, with eight in C major, three in F major, and one each in B and A minor. Our sampling for this initial disk thus cuts a wide swath through Haydn’s chosen tonalities, and offers an equally impressive survey of movement types.
The baryton trios are numerically assigned to the instrumental work group XI in Anthony van Hoboken’s magistral thematic-bibliographic catalogue of Haydn’s oeuvre. With the exception of the seven-movement Trio No. 97 in D Major, written to celebrate “the most happy birthday of His Most Serene Highness Prince Esterházy,” each of our selected works (like virtually all of the remaining Trios) is in three movements, one of which is a Menuet. Space precludes extensive discussion of each, but a brief examination of those of the A Major Trio No. 35 will give an idea of the breadth of invention Haydn displays in these miniature gems. The bucolic opening Adagio throws the baryton melody into sharp relief over a delightful pizzicato accompaniment, occasionally replaced by a bagpipe-like drone which reappears in the ensuing Allegro di molto. The Menuet is in essentially two voices, the viola and baryton playing in unison above the cello’s bass line, an enchanting texture also found in five other movements on this disk. The Menuet’s A minor trio section contrasts the left-thumb-plucked strings of the baryton with the right-hand-plucked strings of the cello. In the remaining Trios, each of the expansive Adagios is of exceptional beauty, while the fast movements, especially the fugal Finales found in Nos. 97 and 101 (the latter “with three subjects, in double counterpoint”), exhibit the incomparable wit, humor, and “ingenious jesting with art” at which Haydn excels.
—Kenneth Slowik



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