original composition for Wind Orchestra on Theme by Franz Joseph Haydn from the Andante of the Symphony n.53 l’Imperial

by Samuele Massari





original composition for Wind Orchestra on Theme by Franz Joseph Haydn from the Andante of the Symphony n.53 l’Imperiale

by Samuele Massari

The ‘variazione’ is the re-proposition, but above all the reinterpretation from time to time different according to a scheme that usually goes from simple to complex, of a starting idea: the Theme.

This is gradually reshaped, reinvented, seen from a different perspective to highlight the infinite facets that are inside.

In this work, in addition to the usual procedures for varying the melody, rhythm, tempo, harmony, mode, tonality, type of accompaniment etc, we also wanted to work on the character, the message to be transmitted, therefore ultimately the style of each variation.

Thus, several author quotes and “tributes” were born …

Tema: it is the Andante of the Symphony n.53 l’Imperiale, although not taken from there directly, but from the Hymn n.73 of the Gospel hymnary of which I edited and reprinted. Hymn slightly different in character and shape than the Andante.

Variazione I: in addition to the notes of the Theme, very recognizable here, it also contains melodic elements from the first movement of the Symphony.

Variazione II: it is the only one that starts in upbeat like the Andante, all the others are in beat like Hymn 73. Variation dedicated mainly to brass, it contains a “dissonant” part intended almost as a parody of the consonant counterpart.

Variazione III: different in tonality and containing a “mysterious, slower” part with Klezmer atmospheres, looking for exotic reflections and scents.

Variazione IV: mainly dedicated to the flute, it pays “homage to P. Grainger” in the orchestration, in the playful, almost funny character, even more evident in the finale.

Variazione V: in addition to being conceived in the “style of Bach”, it contains two real quotations by the Maestro, the first is a passage from the two-part Invention n. 14 initially heard in the bass, then resumed and reproposed in different registers and timbres; the other takes up, imitates, the well-known “Royal Theme” of the Musikalisches Opfer.

Variazione VI: contains a wonderful fragment of the Allegro del Concerto no.21 K467 for piano and orchestra by W. A. ​​Mozart. Fragment that is superimposed with precision on a semi-phrase of our Theme and which obviously influenced the melodic construction of the entire variation.

Variazione VII: with a dedication “to my friend Lorenzo Piro”, author of the hymn “the Winner”, whose melody, a bit like the previous Variation, coincided in part with the Theme of Hymn 73, therefore in fact a “Hymn in the Hymn”. Very calm, sweet, with a “Ninna Nanna” character, it mitigates and balances the more “lively” character of other variations.

Variazione VIII: from the asymmetrical time that helps to give it the perky character of “joke, fun”, it aims to “describe” groups of people and children who jovially set off towards a square with rides on a feast day. The melody was fragmented and entrusted to the different “families” of instruments to have the effect of a multitude of voices in which the most acute registers are obviously those of children. Orchestrated more fully, with the clear intention of describing, if possible, the cheerfulness but also the noises, the confusion of a square full of partying people. An important role is that of the first Horn, which with its glissandos recalls the megaphone of a carousel, or a clown who calls the children together. There are also small “pops” of firecrackers entrusted to the Xylophone, and a child who wanders around the square with a whistle in his mouth .. at the end, a very short episode involving above all the brass evokes the “village band” that announces the end of the party.

Variazione IX: with “homage to G. Donizetti” contains the quote from the Concertino for English horn and orchestra A459 which, as happened for the VI, melodically and stylistically influenced the entire Variation. It should be noted that the melody that fit on Haydn’s Theme, in turn, is variation 1 of Donizetti’s Theme, therefore in fact a “variation of the variation” ..

Variazione X: if melodically it is the simplest and in the form (deliberately) it fully reflects Haydn’s Theme; from the harmonic point of view it is the most complex. With a very different conception from the previous ones, it not only uses bitonality (motif of the “homage to V. Persichetti”) but explores a different dissonance / consonance relationship. In this context, the dissonance loses the “instinct” to resolve, to seek a consonance; indeed it is seen as an element in itself, autonomous and self-sufficient, upsetting the “classic” vision of dissonance. Therefore, it is no longer seen as a dynamic element of movement, but a static one of rest. And the striking thing is that when the dissonances are so regular and constant as to totally replace the consonances, they in turn almost take on the characteristics of these and no longer “disturb” the ear, in fact they seem like consonances.

Grandioso: it is Haydn’s Theme in the typical re-proposition in emphatic tones, expanded towards both the high and the low; in fact it is an eleventh Variazione. Very different from the Theme heard at the beginning, even in the character, in the orchestration, in the dynamics. The first is simple, smooth and without too many frills, the second is much richer in intermediate steps and twists. The sumptuous character of the initial theme is abandoned, for a sunny, jovial, sparkling atmosphere, interrupted here and there only by “theatrical” episodes. On the tail pedals you can hear melodic material from both previous passages and previous Variations, up to the concluding crowns, of the “grand finale” with which the work closes.

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