About this Recording
8.553364 - HAYDN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 20 and 30-32
English 

Joseph Haydn (1732- 1809)

Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)

Piano Sonatas Vol. 6

Sonata No. 20 in B flat major, Hob.XVI: 18

Sonata No. 32 in G Minor, Hob.XVI: 44

Sonata No. 31 in A flat major, Hob.XVI: 46

Sonata No. 30 in D major, Hob.XVI: 19

 

Joseph Haydn was born in the village of Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. Trained at the choir-school of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, he spent some years earning a living as best he could from teaching and playing the violin or keyboard, and was able to learn from the old musician Porpora, whose assistant he became. Haydn's first appointment was in 1759 as Kapellmeister to a Bohemian nobleman, Count von Morzin. This was followed in 1761 by employment as Vice-Kapellmeister to one of the richest men in the Empire, Prince Paul Anton Esterhazy, succeeded on his death in 1762 by his brother Prince Nikolaus. On the death in 1766 of the elderly and somewhat obstructive Kapellmeister, Gregor Werner, Haydn succeeded to his position, to remain in the same employment, nominally at least, for the rest of his life.

 

On the completion of the magnificent palace at Esterhaza, in the Hungarian plains under the new Prince, Haydn assumed command of an increased musical establishment. Here he had responsibility for the musical activities of the palace, which included the provision and direction of instrumental music, opera and theatre music, and music for the church. For his patron he provided a quantity of chamber music of all kinds, particularly for the Prince's own peculiar instrument, the baryton, a bowed string instrument with sympathetic strings that could also be plucked.

 

On the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790, Haydn was able to accept an invitation to visit London, where he provided music for the concert season organized by the violinist-impresario salomon. A second successful visit to London in 1794 and 1795 was followed by are turn to duty with the Esterhazy" family, the new head of which had settled principa1ly at the family property in Eisenstadt, where Haydn had started his career. Much of the year, however, was to be spent in Vienna, where Haydn passed his final years, dying in 1809, as the French armies of Napoleon approached the city yet again.

 

The classical keyboard sonata developed during the eighteenth century, the changes in its form and content taking place during Haydn's life-time. This formal development took place during a period when keyboard instruments themselves were changing, with the harpsichord and clavichord gradua1ly replaced by the new hammer-action fortepiano. There are some fourteen early harpsichord sonatas attributed to Haydn. Of his 47 later keyboard sonatas, dating from about 1765, the first thirty were designed for harpsichord and the next nine for harpsichord or piano. The remaining eight sonatas include seven specifica1ly intended for piano and one for piano or harpsichord. The principal musical difference between music for harpsichord and that for the piano lies in the possibilities for gradual dynamic change, indications of which appear in Haydn's later sonatas.

 

Sonata No.20 in B flat major, Hob.XVI: 18, among those apparently origina1ly intended for harpsichord, has been conjectura1ly dated to 1766 or 1767. In March of the earlier year Gregor Werner had died, and Haydn had been appointed his successor, now finding it convenient, amid the re-organization of the Esterhazy musical establishment, to buy a house for himself in Eisenstadt. The ornamented first subject of the opening Allegro moderato, with its dotted, ascending arpeggio outline, leads, imperceptibly enough, to the now expected change of key to the dominant, F major, and to a secondary theme that involves the rhythmic variety of triplet semiquavers and syncopation. A reference to the first subject starts the central development of ~ the material, with its changes of key and mode, before the recapitulation of the first section, with the modulation necessary for restoration of the original key.' The B flat major second movement, in triple time, fo1lows a similar formal pattern, offering a secondary theme built on a descending sequence, a central development section and a final recapitulation.

Sonata No.32 in G minor, Hob.XVI: 44, has been dated, again conjecturally, to the years from 1768 to 1770, although others, as with Sonata No.20, have preferred a date between 1771 and 1773, providing only 1788 as a terminus post quern, the date of publication of Sonatas Nos. 31 and 32 by Artaria. The principal subject in G minor is fol1owed by a brighter secondary subject in B flat major, leading to the expected development, with its excursions into other keys and use of sequential patterns before the recapitulation and closing section. The fol1owing G minor Allegretto is contrasted with a G major section, both varied in turn on repetition.

 

For the Sonata No.31 in A flat major, Hob. XVI: 46, the earlier dating of 1767 or 1768 is preferred. The choice of key allows for excursions into relatively unfamiliar territory as the sonata progresses. The opening subject of the first I movement has al1 the rhythmic variety that is a feature of Haydn's melodic writing. A dramatic B flat pedal-point precedes the second subject material, with its triplet semiquaver figuration and the development al1ows further varied elaboration of the pedal-point of the exposition. The fol1owing Adagio, in D flat major, finds a place for contrapuntal writing, as the thematic material unwinds, again with contrasting secondary material in the dominant key and a varied repetition that moves to a brief cadenza before the final bars. The final movement, dominated by its principal theme, again al1ows infinite variety within its formal pattern.

 

Sonata No.30 in D major, Hob. XVI: 19, the fourth sonata included here, also seemingly intended original1y for harpsichord, has autograph of 1767." The first movement, marked Moderato has a swinging first subject in the middle register of the keyboard. The secondary material makes use of descending and then ascending patterns of thirds and sixths, against a repeated note, and the closing section makes extensive use of an, accompanying triadic pattern. The central development finds a place for drama, before three arpeggiated chords bring the section to an end, to be followed by the recapitulation. The A major Andante brings a little surprise in its initial presentation of the principal theme, very briefly interrupted by a sudden break in the first three bars, before resuming its fun course. There is due contrast of key and theme in the secondary material, both to form the substance of the second section of the movement. The syncopated main subject of the Finale is followed by a D minor episode, re-appearing in a more I elaborate form before a second, A major episode. The main theme returns once more, to be followed by a grander restatement, at first with are turn of the original syncopation, before an Alberti bass moves the sonata towards its emphatic conclusion.

 

Jeno Jando


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