Albuquerque Journal

Philharmon­ic to perform Haydn’s ‘Surprise’ symphony


The New Mexico Philharmon­ic is opening its 2017-18 season with a surprise. Haydn’s Symphony No. 94, that is.

The orchestra will perform the composer’s most-recognizab­le “Surprise” symphony on Saturday in a neighborho­od concert with the 80-member chancel choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church.

Haydn penned 104 symphonies, many of them incorporat­ing his trademark humor.

“This is one of his London symphonies,” St. John’s music director Matthew Greer said. “He wrote in the midpoint of his life. It’s famous because the second movement has this fortissimo chord.

“There’s a lot of humor in Haydn’s music. Legend has it that he wrote it because a patron was always nodding off. It’s fun, it’s charming, it’s beautiful writing for strings.”

The musicians will open the program with Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate, a solo motet with soprano Ingela Onstad.

“He wrote this when he was 16,” Greer said. “He was in the middle of composing one of his operas. He was really impressed by one of the castrata.

“It’s sacred, but it might as well be an opera aria. It’s very florid, it’s virtuosic, it’s show-offy.”

Another prodigy named Franz Schubert wrote his Mass in G for his own church when he was just 18.

“This is probably his most beloved and best-known,” Greer said. “It’s beautiful and lyrical. Because he was new and so young, he accidental­ly left out some of the Mass text, which is a big no-no.”

Publishers did not print the original score until 1845, some years after Schubert’s death. Until then, it remained one of his most obscure compositio­ns.

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