Athens Concert Hall / Megaron

An Evening of Symphony

I attended the Athens Concert Hall (Mitropoulos Hall, Megaron) on Saturday, 31 October 2009 to appreciate and absorb the music of R. Wagner, F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, J. Haydn and Z. Kod’aly.  In having to report my experience at the Megaron, i have selected J. Haydn as my topic of expression in his Symphony Number 97, in four movements, of which i am to discuss the 1. Adagio – Vivace, 2. Adagio me non troppo, 3. Menuetto e Trio – Allegretto, 4. Finale: Presto assai.


It would be a shame for me not to mention Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer Overture which brought us all very quickly to the ends of our seats.  It was almost as if being present in a cinema premiere for a WWI movie.  The powerful brass instruments leading us with powerful awakenings, as if being at sea with fog horns in calling; raising the register from high pitch to gradual low registers in sombre trombone tones.  A carefree given grace in the tempo of an Adagio of woodwind instruments and strings gradual, yet subtle French horns in drone like chords to accompany the lighter afore-mentioned tones.

The use of repetition in the melodic theme most definitely bind the piece into a coherent whole, which is probably the reason for my cinematic visions of Storm and Waves.  We are then introduced to a frivolous moment with flutes, strings, brass, in culmination to its full crescendo.  The portrayal of the Strings is exceptionally real with emotion enacting gustly winds and stormy waves in colors of brass.

It was truly a perfect ouvre for the following masters of classical music to guide us further into our pleasurable evening of Symphonic Orchestration.

Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
Symphony No.97 in C major: I. Adagio – Vivace

The Symphony No. 97 in C major, Hoboken I/97, is the fifth of the so-called twelve London Symphonies (numbers 93-104) written by Joseph Haydn. It was completed in 1792 as part of the set of symphonies composed on his first trip to London. It was first performed at the Hanover Square Rooms in London on 3 or 4 May 1792. First published in England, it made its way to the continent a few years later and was used by Ludwig van Beethoven as a model for a symphony in C major he never completed, and by Friedrich Witt for the Jena Symphony.

The work is in standard four movement form and scored for two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings.

  1. Adagio – Vivace, 3/4
  2. Adagio, 2/2 in F major
  3. Minuet e Trio. Allegretto, 3/4
  4. Finale: Presto assai, 2/4

After a slow introduction which deliberately avoids establishing C major, the main theme of the first movement is a fanfare that emphasizes the three notes of the C major triad.

The second movement is a set of F major variations with an irregular episode in F minor and a coda.  In the variation following the minore episode, Haydn the unusual sul ponticello marking instructing the violins to play with the bow near the bridge creating a “glassy” or “metallic” sound.

For the final eight bars of the Trio of the minuet, Haydn instructs the concertmaster (“Salomon Solo” in the score) to play an octave above the rest of the first violins.

Coda (Italian for “tail”, plural code) is a term used in music in a number of different senses, primarily to designate a passage which brings a piece (or one movement thereof) to a conclusion.

The presence of a coda as a structural element in a music movement is especially clear in works written in particular musical forms. In a sonata form movement, the recapitulation section will generally follow the exposition in its thematic content, while adhering to the home key. The recapitulation often ends with a passage that sounds like a termination, paralleling the music that ended the exposition; thus any music coming after this termination will be perceived as extra material; i.e. as a coda. In works in variation form, the coda occurs following the last variation and will be very noticeable as the first music not based on the theme.

Codas were commonly used in both sonata form and variation movements during the Classical era. One of the ways that Beethoven extended and intensified Classical practice was to expand the coda sections, producing a final section sometimes of equal musical weight to the foregoing exposition, development and recapitulation sections and completing the musical argument. For one famous example, see Symphony No. 8 (Beethoven).[1]

[edit] The musical function of codas

Charles Burkhart (2005, 12) suggests that the reason codas are common, even necessary, is that in the climax of the main body of a piece a “particularly effortful passage”, often an expanded phrase, is often created by “working an idea through to its structural conclusions” and that after all this momentum is created a coda is required to “look back” on the main body, allow listeners to “take it all in”, and “create a sense of balance.”


By Demetrios Voulgarellis

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