Symphony in D, op 25

La Chasse, Sinfonie à Grande Orchestre, op 25

Title page of Wranitzky's Op. 25 Symphony as published by André
Title page of Wranitzky's Symphony op 25
Musical settings of the hunt were popular among composers of the seventeenth and eighteenth century and Wranitzky composed no less than three such pieces for full orchestra. Among them are two unpublished symphonies, one in Eb (Postolka 31) and the G minor symphony with the storm and hunt, composed for the Empress Marie Therese (Postolka 42). The final movement of the latter was extracted and published by André of Offenbach as Wranitzky’s Op 44, for solo piano, winds and percussion. The composer’s sole published symphony with a hunt setting is the Op 25 Symphony in D Major, La Chasse (Postolka 25), published in 1793, also by André. The grand orchestration included strings, solo flute, paired oboes, bassoons and horns and timpani. For a private performance for Ferdinand III of Tuscany, exiled in Vienna because of the Napoleonic wars, Wranitzky added parts for trumpet and, in the final hunt movement, a large drum.

The opening movement establishes a mood of anticipation and celebration with its grand rising and falling lines, short glissandi, and brief, bright motives that are tossed around among the full orchestra. An increasingly active transition section sets up the second theme, but instead the listener is deceived by the emergence of additional transitional material, in the minor dominant. A proper, placid theme soon appears in A major, presented first in the violins and then repeated in the solo flute. The closing section makes use of the opening glissandi and foreshadows its use in the development section. A repeat of the exposition is not indicated.

In a sudden shift to the key of C, a statement of the opening theme announces the transition section. Distant tonal areas, sequential progressions, an extensive use of the glissando motive are features of the passage. The recapitulation parallels the exposition completely, including the appearance of the additional transition theme, this time in the parallel minor key.

Possibly as a nod to the movement structure of earlier serenades and divertimenti, the Minuet and Trio is placed before the slow movement. The Menuetto Allegretto features scalar passages that recall the opening movement, brief harmonic shifts and hemiola. The Trio offers a delightful dialogue between the violins and the wind section. Bass foundation is provided mainly by celli and bassoons, thus lightening the texture.

Continuing with the divertimenti model, the slow movement is a serenade in a compound ternary form. Opening with a simple but lyrical G major theme in the strings, the winds immediately respond with a more rhythmically intricate response. This strings-only and winds-added procedure is repeated with themes based on the dominant harmony. Both iterations feature solo sections for the flute and bassoon. The contrasting middle section is brief, portraying a more rigid character created by continuous rising and falling sixteenth-note scales and passagework. Though it begins in the relative minor of E, a surprise appearance of E major is found in the middle. Without any harmonic preparation, the original material is reprised and an extended restatement ensues. The original themes are supported by a more active rhythmic accompaniment that recalls the B section.

The final movement, Allegro La Caccia, musically depicts the excitement of the hunt and gives the symphony its nickname. Set in the bright key of D, the tonality both connotes royalty and triumph. Paired horns announce the hunt before the rest of the orchestra joins in. Staggered entrances within the strings cleverly portray the gathering of the hunt’s participants. Anticipation builds with the appearance of bird-like motives in the high woodwinds. A lengthy development section recalls motives of both themes in distant tonal centers of B-flat, G minor, and C major and F major. The horn call emerges, perhaps signifying a successful outing, but also announcing the recapitulation of all the movement's themes - all in a bright and jubilant way.

by James Ackerman



Symphony in D, op 25

I. Allegro maestoso Listen in youtube player
292 bars
II. Menuetto: Allegretto & Trio Listen in youtube player
42+32 bars
III. Adagio Listen in youtube player
100 bars
III. Allegro La Caccia Listen in youtube player
284 bars

Scoring: 2 Vln, 2 Vla, Vcl, B, Fl, 2 Ob, 2 Bn, 2 Hn, 2 Clno*, Timp, Timpanone*
* optional parts added after publication by Wranitzky

Download: Full Score - Parts available upon request -
Edition by Daniel Bernhardsson

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