Haydn - The Paris Symphonies
Orchestre des Arts Florissants
Cyril POULET, cello
« The perfumed and distinguished Haydn [of William Christie] is an enchantement » Jérémie Bigorne – Classica
In the 1780s, Paris was undoubtedly considered the European epicenter of instrumental performance. One concert series played an essential part in this reputation, and the reverence for the internationally famous Concerts Spirituels was in no small part due to the fact that it was one of the most prestigious venues for the talents of Europe’s formost virtuoso performers.
During the 1780s, it became almost unthinkable for the organisers of the Concerts Spirituels to start each half of a concert with anything other than a symphony by Joseph Haydn, and the particular affinity for his works continued into the second decade of the 19th century largely overshadowing the place of popular contemporaries at the time such as Mozart or even the early symphonies of Beethoven. The group of six « Paris » symphonies written by Haydn between 1785 and 1786 for the maçonic organisation Les Concerts de la loge Olympique which housed one of Europe’s best orchestras of the time, quickly gained favour with the Parisian public. Revived all over Europe, they became the veritable summit of the classic Viennese symphony.
The style of the Paris Symphonies is very personal, mixing depth and fantasy, solemnity and humour. Four of them were given nicknames bearing witness to their popularity – « La Poule » (“The Hen”) with its first movement theme on a single high staccato note from the flute, and « L’Ours » (“The Bear”) with its clumsy motif for the lower strings in the finale both seem endearingly to imitate the animals which lent their names to the works.
William Christie and the orchestra of Les Arts Florissants will join with virtuoso instrumental soloists to perform all six symphonies and some concerti over the course of three programmes for a major three-season project.