Sunday, February 23, 2014

Haydn Sunrise

The final weeks of this tough winter have been a challenge for all. The other day I needed a pick-me-up while running errands so I popped a CD into the car. It has become a favorite of mine in the last couple of years. It features big orchestral pieces by Mozart, Gluck and Michael Haydn using the so-called Alla Turca style... with lots of oboes, clarinets, cymbals, triangles, kettle drums, military marches and instrumental ornaments. The most famous of this genre is Mozart's overture to his opera, Abduction from the Seraglio.

Each time I listen to this CD, I love it more. The sheer bravado and joy, and the wake-you-from-the-dead energy gets my blood pumping.

One piece is different from the others. It is a slow 4/4 - not really a march, but it has the pace of a person walking. Hearing it, you can easily imagine yourself taking part in a deeply profound processional. It reminds me of the glory of the sunrise - and the wondrous transition from winter to spring. The same simple theme repeats with increasingly dramatic variations. It is inexorable and ultimately triumphant. So this morning it was amazing to waken from my sleep hearing it play in my head. It was as if my brain decided to wake me up with this musical treat and to remind me that spring is coming. With every hour it gets closer.

The piece is by Michael Haydn. It is the Andante Adagio movement from the compositions he wrote for Voltaire's Opera, "Zaire" in 1771. Michael Haydn was Joseph Haydn's younger brother. Michael was known for his sacred music compositions.

Try as I might, I couldn't find any recording of the piece on-line to share here. It can be heard on the CD entitled "Alla Turca" put out by Collegium Aureum and can be found on Amazon. It seems to have become a collector's item; the prices for used CD's range up toward $200! If you can find it in your local library, the track is #6, and it's the second movement, which I think is "Andante Adagio".

Link to "Alla Turca" CD