<< -- 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.'
Copyright © 9 October 2002
Robert Anderson, London, UK