Saturday, June 27, 2009

Half-Way Through the Project

Symphony Hall, the "basic" classical music channel for the (now merged) XM/Sirius satellite radio service, chose an interesting way to celebrate this year's anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn. They decided to use the year to traverse all of his numbered symphonies (omitting any of the "extras" in the Hoboken catalog). Since there are 104 numbered symphonies and 52 weeks in the year, this works out conveniently to playing two symphonies each week. Today Martin Goldsmith made it a special point to recognize that he was playing Symphony Number 52 (Hoboken I/52), emphasizing that this was one of the Sturm und Drang symphonies for which Haydn had selected the key of C minor; but the occasion was far more celebratory for having reached the exact midpoint than it was stormy or stressful.

I rather like the way in which Goldsmith has set himself his own "Mount Haydn project." Both the peak and the ascent are far more modest than my own project, based on the Brilliant Classics Haydn Edition; but, while I forged ahead at a pace more concerned with checking the condition of all the CDs, Goldsmith found a good way to stretch his over the entire year. Interestingly enough, today's recording was the performance by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra, conducted by Adam Fischer, from the collection of all the symphonies used by Brilliant for their larger package. Furthermore, in contrast to the frustrations I experienced with all those settings of folk songs that were not even of Haydn's own folk (so to speak) and the even larger mass of "politically motivated" baryton compositions, I have always felt that every symphony along Goldsmith's path of ascent is a rose worth stopping to smell, making the entire year a perfectly suitable time for his chosen journey. It therefore seems like the perfect time to congratulate Goldsmith for thinking up this particular plan and to recognize the significance of his milestone!

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