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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 103 and 104 (Tintner Edition 4)
By John S. Gray
Georg Tintner's legacy continues with the Naxos release of three more excellent live recordings with Symphony Nova Scotia. Hearing these broadcasts, it is easily forgotten now, just how much of a low point the Halifax orchestra had sunk into, during the dark days of the dissolution of the old Atlantic Symphony and the faltering recovery under Boris Brott. Tintner's arrival as music director there produced results, in little more than a year, that were nothing short of miraculous. That the orchestra pulled itself up by its bootstraps is by now a legend, but it probably would have never have occurred without the active intervention of Tintner.
The orchestra on all these recordings is warm, balanced and precise. Aside from the occasional stray bassoon note in the Brahms Third, the musicians are in top form. Principal oboist Suzanne LeMieux shines all over these discs. It is incredible to think that one is hearing a "mere" provincial orchestra in the Maritimes. Tintner's brief but endearing talks from the stage are a feature on these CD's, as they are in the previous two. The personal insights, particularly of the last farewell between Mozart and Haydn (on Vol. 4) are deeply moving. The Brahms 2nd Serenade in A major Op. 16 (Vol. 5) is especially well-served by these Naxos discs. While I will make no claim to have heard all the recordings of this work that exist on the market, those that I do know leave me somewhat cold, unlike this one. Tintner's Beethoven 4th Symphony is a good addition to any collection. I can see no reason why one wouldn't gain as much from it as from standard recordings from, say, von Karajan or Colin Davis. On this same (Vol. 3) disc, the seldom-played Schumann Symphony No. 2 receives a much-deserved rescue from obscurity at the hands of Tintner and SNS: Invaluable.Two of Joseph Haydn's late symphonies, the No. 103 and No. 104 are paired on Vol. 4. Interestingly enough, the No. 103 was actually recorded in the Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax, legendary among musicians for its acoustics, which vary from indifferent to downright awful, depending on who you ask. But this recording sounds nearly as good as the others do from the stage of the more luxurious wood-paneled Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.Unlike the first two CD's in this Naxos Memorial series, the Halifax audience does manifest itself with an occasional cough or sneeze, but generally the listening experience at home or under headphones is free from such distractions. Tanya Tintner's programme notes are up to her usual high standard. Full marks, Naxos.
Tintner's brief but endearing talks from the stage are a feature on these CD's, as they are in the previous two. The personal insights, particularly of the last farewell between Mozart and Haydn (on Vol. 4) are deeply moving.
The Brahms 2nd Serenade in A major Op. 16 (Vol. 5) is especially well-served by these Naxos discs. While I will make no claim to have heard all the recordings of this work that exist on the market, those that I do know leave me somewhat cold, unlike this one.
Tintner's Beethoven 4th Symphony is a good addition to any collection. I can see no reason why one wouldn't gain as much from it as from standard recordings from, say, von Karajan or Colin Davis. On this same (Vol. 3) disc, the seldom-played Schumann Symphony No. 2 receives a much-deserved rescue from obscurity at the hands of Tintner and SNS: Invaluable.
Two of Joseph Haydn's late symphonies, the No. 103 and No. 104 are paired on Vol. 4. Interestingly enough, the No. 103 was actually recorded in the Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax, legendary among musicians for its acoustics, which vary from indifferent to downright awful, depending on who you ask. But this recording sounds nearly as good as the others do from the stage of the more luxurious wood-paneled Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.Unlike the first two CD's in this Naxos Memorial series, the Halifax audience does manifest itself with an occasional cough or sneeze, but generally the listening experience at home or under headphones is free from such distractions. Tanya Tintner's programme notes are up to her usual high standard. Full marks, Naxos.
TINTNER MEMORIAL EDITION • VOLUME 4
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Symphony No.103 in E flat major, ‘Drum Roll’ Performance
recorded 10 April 1988
Symphony No.104 in D major, ‘London’ Performance recorded 20
Haydn’s music was one of Georg Tintner’s great loves. He
said: “Good old Papa Haydn. He wrote a lot of music. He even invented, in a
way, the symphony, and the string quartet. But when it comes to compare him
with the real greats like Beethoven and Mozart, he is found wanting. Now that
was established opinion for about 150 years. It is totally wrong. And Beethoven
and Mozart would have been the first ones to say so. Why did it happen? I think
largely because in the nineteenth century one expected a great artist also to
be a great man. A prototype of that of course is Beethoven. Another one who
wanted to seem a great man is Wagner, though he was not.
“We see Haydn first in the Vienna Boys Choir. He had a
magnificent voice, therefore he was threatened with a rather unpleasant
operation in order to preserve his voice for the rest of his life, and though
he was of a burning faith I think his belief didn’t go quite as far as that and
he quickly absconded before it happened. Years of extreme poverty followed. In
fact he was so poor that he could neither hire nor buy a piano, and he was one
of those composers who needed a piano for composing. And so for months, I think
even two years, he didn’t write a note. Then came an offer to become court
composer and conductor to Count Esterházy, and Haydn, being the musician he
was, saw an ideal opportunity to experiment with players and singers. And he
had to write an enormous amount very quickly. His position is very similar to
another great composer, Vivaldi, who was the composer in an orphanage and had
to turn it out week by week, but Haydn used this period of many years in
Esterháza to constantly improve his craft.
“His last symphony, which Sir Donald Tovey considered his
greatest – one may or may not agree with that, but it is certainly a
magnificent piece which combines all the achievements of depth of feeling,
passion, humour and enormous craft, counterpoint, and the rest. These two last
symphonies are over two hundred years old and they are as fresh as when they were
written. And there is one other feeling in Haydn’s music which is rare with
great composers: it has a feeling of the open air. Perhaps because he was born
in the countryside, and as such he is in the company of Delius who has this
feeling of open air ... Bruckner, Dvorˇák ... but you can count these
nature people on one hand.”
Haydn wrote the Symphony No.103, the so-called Drum-Roll, in
1795 during his second visit to London. Here he could include clarinets in the
scoring, as well as a second flute, instruments not available to him at
Esterháza. The symphony was first performed at the King’s Theatre on 2nd March
at an Opera Concert, part of a series that replaced the earlier London concerts
organized by Salomon.
The slow introduction of the first movement starts with a
drum-roll, followed by a long-drawn theme from cellos, double basses and
bassoons, hinting at the Dies irae of the Requiem Mass, its final dynamic
contrasts leading to a lively Allegro, towards the close of which the drum-roll
and mysterious Adagio reappear. The second movement is a set of double
variations, its first C minor theme announced by the strings, joined by oboes,
bassoons and horns for the second theme, in C major, both of which are
apparently of Balkan folk provenance and are then varied in turn with all the
subtlety of which Haydn was a master. The Minuet has a companion Trio that
allows the London clarinettists a dangerous prominence. French horns introduce
the Finale, remarkably based on one theme and as original as anything Haydn
Symphony No.104 in D Major is the last of Haydn’s symphonies
and the last of the dozen such works commissioned by the violinist Salomon for
his London seasons. It was probably performed for the first time at the Opera
Concert given at the King’s Theatre on 13th April, 1795 with Dr Haydn at the
pianoforte. The symphony is scored for pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets,
bassoons, horns, trumpets and drums, with the usual strings. There is a slow
introduction leading to a lively Allegro in the customary tripartite form, its
central development a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The slow movement allows
the strings to utter a theme of simple beauty. The well known Minuet and Trio
is followed by a final movement whose themes have a decidedly folk-song feel.
Georg Tintner was born in Vienna in 1917. He began studying
piano at the age of six and to compose soon after. From nine to thirteen he was
a member of the Vienna Boys Choir, where he also conducted the choir in
performances of his own compositions. At thirteen he entered the Vienna State
Academy as a composition prodigy, studying composition with Josef Marx and
conducting with Felix Weingartner. At eighteen he was the conductor of a
training choir of the Vienna Boys Choir, and trained the choir for a
performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with Bruno Walter in 1936. His
compositions were being performed in concert and broadcast by Austrian Radio,
and at nineteen he became assistant conductor at the Vienna Volksoper.
In 1938 he fled the Nazis, spending a year in England before
emigrating to New Zealand. For several years he ran a poultry farm – as a
result of which he became a total vegetarian – before becoming Music Director
of the Auckland String Players and Auckland Choral Society in 1947. He was also
an avowed socialist and pacifist, and as such he rode a bicycle as “a symbol of
the ultimate in harmlessness”.
In 1954 he went to Australia as Resident Conductor of the
National Opera and then the Elizabethan Opera. In the following years he toured
Australia widely and pioneered television opera with the Australian
Broadcasting Commission. In 1964 he was Music Director of the New Zealand
Opera, and in 1966-67 was Music Director of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra.
Although offered an extended contract, Tintner left for political reasons. He
went to London and Sadler’s Wells (English National Opera) for three years,
with guest appearances with the London Mozart Players, the Bournemouth Symphony
Orchestra, the Northern Sinfonia and the London Symphony Orchestra for the BBC.
He returned to Australia in 1970 as Music Director of the
West Australian Opera Company. In 1971 he was invited as Music Director of the
National Youth Orchestra of Canada, a visit so successful that it was repeated
seven times. Tintner had a special rapport with young musicians, conducting
many concerts with the national youth orchestras of several countries. A 1974
series of lectures have been broadcast many times in English-speaking
countries, and he was renowned for his concert introductions, some of which may
be heard in this edition.
Tintner’s repertoire included 56 operas, about two-thirds of
which he conducted from memory. In 1974 he became Senior Resident Conductor of
the Australian Opera for two years. While there he conducted now-legendary
performances of Fidelio, expressive of his lifelong commitment to compassionate
humanism. From 1976 Tintner was Music Director of the Queensland Philharmonic
Orchestra until moving to Canada at the end of 1987 as Music Director of Symphony
Nova Scotia. He appeared with all Australian, New Zealand orchestras and opera
companies, and later with all major Canadian orchestras including the Montreal
and Toronto Symphony Orchestras. In the United States he toured with the
Canadian Brass and appeared with the Michigan Opera Theatre.
He made many commercial recordings, including some for the
CBC which are being reissued in the present Memorial Edition. His Naxos series
of all eleven Bruckner symphonies brought him worldwide acclaim in his final
Georg Tintner has been honoured in four countries. He was
awarded several honorary doctorates, and honours including the Officer’s Cross
of the Austrian Order Of Merit. He was a Member of the Order of Canada
He died in Halifax in October 1999.
Symphony Nova Scotia
Symphony Nova Scotia (SNS) is Canada’s only fully
professional symphony orchestra east of Quebec City. Founded in 1983, the 37
musicians of Symphony Nova Scotia have a mandate “to enhance the quality of
life of citizens of Nova Scotia.” Symphony Nova Scotia is dedicated to sharing
live classical music with audiences across Nova Scotia through its concerts,
and with all Canadians through its many CBC broadcasts. The orchestra also
collaborates with other music, theatre, and dance partners, and has recently established
the Symphony Nova Scotia Chorus.
MUSICIANS ON THIS RECORDING:
Concertmaster: Philippe Djokic. Violin: Janet Dunsworth, Chun-He Gao, Beverley Grove, Ryan
Kho, Dorota Kwiecinska, Karen Langille, Anita Gao Lee, Yi Lee, Anne Rapson,
Peter Stryniak, David Thompson, Christopher Wilkinson. Viola: Yvonne DeRoller, Mary Kanner,
Susan Sayle, Burt Wathen. Cello:
Pierre Djokic, David Moulton, Mark Rodgers, Shimon Walt. Bass: Max Kasper, Lena Turofsky. Flute: Lucie Batteke, Patricia
Creighton. Oboe: Maureen Byrne,
Suzanne Lemieux, Margaret Pheby.
Clarinet: Margaret Isaacs, John Rapson. Bassoon: Christopher Palmer, Ivor Rothwell. Horn: William Costin, Jean-Marc Dupre,
Steven Field, Margaret Howard.
Trumpet: Jeffrey Stern, Geoffrey Thompson. Timpani: Michael Baker
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HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 103 and 104 (Tintner Editio...