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The Station Orchestra
Conductor, Warwick Braithwaite
Martha is the story of a love-frolic in Queen Anne's day. One of her Maids of Honour, Lady Harriet Durham, with a friend, goes off on an adventure. At a hiring fair, under the names of Martha and Julia, they contract with two farmers, Lionel and Plunkett, to become servant girls. They soon tire of their game and escape from the farmhouse. Lionel who, of course, has fallen in love with 'Martha', sings this sad song when he finds the maid has gone.
To begin a Symphony with a Slow Introduction was a habit with Haydn. Like most habits, the procedure sometimes seemed a trifle mechanical.
The Introduction to this work certainly does not lead us to expect the madcap, scampering Movement that follows. We enjoy that rush of the fiddles, now up the stairs, now down, like the scurry of children at play. His Second Tune can easily be detected because it comes quietly, after a general rally, and is very like the first. It begins with a two bar phrase (on the First Violins, the other Strings punctuating with a chord).
When in due course the two Tunes return, the composer quickly puts aside the First, in order to play with his favourite, the Second, a little more. Then he gives us a taste of No. 1 to wind up with.
II.-In the opening of the Slow Movement we hear at once the clue to the title of the Symphony -the jog-trot 'tick-tock' of the wag-by-the-wall clock. Plucked Strings and Bassoons give it out piquantly, while the First Violins sing their dainty tune. The Movement consists of a genial exposition of this, with a minor-key episode, in a heavier stylo, in the middle.
III.-The Minuet is one of those robust cheery dances that Haydn threw off so neatly.
It consists of first the Minuet proper (in three portions, making a complete miniature piece by itself); then the Trio, opening with a distant bagpipe effect on the Strings, and a Flute melody against it; and after that the regular return of the Minuet.
With its effective contrasts of power (the soft answer to the first loud phrase is a charming example), its dainty interplay between Strings and Wood-wind (as in the second section of the Minuet proper), and its general air of content and well-being, it is a capital foil to the last Movement.
IV.-This, though it keeps up the general vivacity of the Symphony, is rather more solid in style. It is a dissertation on the text which is given out in harmony by all the Strings at the start. This crops up, with varied matter intervening, several times, until it is finally used as the foundation for a fugue (First Violins starting this hare, while Seconds dash around and across its track excitedly).
After a short but exceedingly lively chase the tune is given out in grandiose style by the Full Orchestra and a general rampage brings us to the end of the day's sport in great good humour.
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