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<<  -- 2 --  Robert Anderson    BRILLIANCE AND NEATNESS


Cantatas of congratulation must necessarily be cheerful, and Haydn has enough variety in his major mode to carry off his tributes without risk of monotony or boredom. Yet he will conjure a few bars in the minor where possible and darken textures by shunting to the subdominant. But in the first of the Nicholas Day cantatas to survive, that of 6 December 1763, the mere mention of the sea and all its treasures plunges the music into a turbulent D minor that almost anticipates The Creation and its 'Rolling in foaming billows' [listen -- track 5, 0:18-1:10]. On that nameday Prince Nicolaus had more than an inkling of what dramatic moods Haydn might encompass. The rest of the work is beautifully adapted to the occasion and gives the so accomplished soloists every opportunity for display and reasonable gratitude to their employer.

At the beginning of 1764 Prince Nicolaus had no need of Haydn's services, as he was in Frankfurt some two months for the formal election and coronation of the future emperor Joseph II as Roman king. Goethe was there, watching the arrivals for the electoral congress. Prince Nicolaus inspired a 'special liking'. Nicolaus scored again on the 3 April night of the coronation: 'We admired the various brilliant representations and the fairy-like structures of flame by which each ambassador strove to outshine the others. But Prince Esterhazy's arrangements surpassed all the rest.'

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Copyright © 9 October 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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