Mr. Peabody Says:
The “Mercury” nickname is a mystery. So don’t search for a portrait of the gods’ winged messenger. The slow movement is the only movement of any of Haydn’s symphonies to be in the key of Ab major. That’s because usually the slow movement goes to the 5th note in the scale, not the 4th.
Which slow sound do you like?
This is a good opportunity to experinece the difference between a “period group” and “modern one”. Try listening to the 2nd movement below twice, the one with Fischer and then the one with Antonini. How are they different? Which one do you like. For me the modern strings are “sweeter”, more gentle. I generally prefer them.
How about the speed of the minuet?
Try listening to both. Fischer is slower. Antonini goes much faster. Which do you like alone? In the context of the whole symphony? Personally, I’d take the slower tempo this time, but I could easily change my mind. The point is that minuets in this time period very greatly in speed, and no one agrees on the tempo entirely.
Now the whole symphony.
It’s good to listen to each movement separately first, then let the whole thing play when you are ready.
- two oboes
- two horns