Monday, November 12, 2012

The London Symphonies part three

OK, this is a quick wrap up of my rankings of Haydn's London Symphonies.  I have decided to redo my rankings based on a more systematic approach....but first, the preliminary rankings of the remaining eight symphonies:

8 - No. 100 in G Major "The Military".   Very dramatic second movement with military-style brass and percussion.

7 - No. 94 in G Major "The Surprise".   The first movement is an excellent example of Haydn's monothematic mature style.  The second movement is so well-known it borders on cliche.   But if you listen to it fresh (it may take a try or two), it is a very inventive theme and variations.  

6 - No. 101 in D Major "The Clock".  One of Haydn's most joyous first movements.  The last movement also features some fantastic counterpoint.

5 - No. 93 in D Major.  Such an elegant first movement.  I usually like quicker tempos, but I like the slower version by Sir Colin Davis and the Royal Concertgebouw.   So graceful and clear.   The second movement is a wonderful theme and variations with a bit of Haydn's trademark humor when the bassoon squawks a loud solo note towards the end.

4 - No. 97 in C Major.  As I mentioned in the last entry, I sure do love the power of the Theme 1 in contrast with the graceful beauty of the waltz-like Theme 2.

3 - No. 98 in Bb Major.  The first movement is fantastic, and the second movement is perhaps the best slow movement of the lot.   The last movement is in sonata form as well, so it is quite weighty on its own.

2 -  No. 103 in Eb Major "The Drumroll".   The introduction of the first movement starts off with a huge timpani roll.  This is one of Haydn's best movements.   It's the only one where the slow introduction makes a reappearance later in the movement.   The second movement is a wonderful theme and variations.

1 - No. 104 in D "The London".    Perhaps Haydn's greatest first movement, it perfectly encapsulates everything about his mature style.  It is monothematic, with a constant flow of inevitable, effervescent melody.   The development is particularly wonderful.   The remaining movements are wonderful - the melody of the finale is iconic - a rustic, spirited dance.

My plan for the new list is to rank the symphonies according to movement - put all the first movements in order of most well-liked, then the second movements, etc.

Then I will times the first movement scores by 6, the second movement scores by 5, the finale scores by 4 and the minuet scores by 3.  This will weight the scores of the movements a bit according to importance.

Then I add it all up! 

Note that with this system, I will reverse the numerical order of preference for the sake of the score - the favorite will be ranked #12,  and the least favorite will be ranked #1.

So if a symphony's first movement is ranked #4, it's second is #7, its 3rd is #2, and it's 4th is ranking #9, then it's score would be (4x6)+(7x5)+(2x3)+(9x4)=101.

I expect my rankings to change quite a bit.  I particularly anticipate symphonies No. 99 and 95 to climb and No. 103 and 104 to fall a bit.  We shall see!

This will take me while, of course.  And why I am doing it?   Because it's the kind of thing I enjoy.......what can I say?  I love listening, but I love it even more when done systematically.    

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