HAYDN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 53-56 and 58 / Un Piccolo Divertimento (Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.550845)
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Joseph Haydn (1732 -1809)
Piano Sonatas Vol. 3
Sonata No.53 in E Minor, Hob. XVI: 34
Sonata No.54 in G Major, Hob. XVI: 40
Sonata No.55 in B Flat Major, Hob. XVI: 41
Sonata No.56 in D Major, Hob. XVI: 42
Sonata No.58 in C Major, Hob. XVI: 48
Variations (Un piccolo Divertimento) in F Minor, Hob. XVII: 6
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 Esterházy, 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 under the new Prince of the magnificent palace at Esterháza, built on the site of a former hunting-lodge set on the Hungarian plains, 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 a return to duty with the Esterházy family, the new head of which had settled principally 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 gradually replaced by the new hammer-action fortepiano. There are some fourteen early harpsichord sonatas attributed to Haydn. Of his 471ater 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 specifically 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.
Haydn's Sonata in E minor, Hob. XVI: 34, is of uncertain date, but was published in London in 1784 as one of a group of three keyboard sonatas. It seems that all three were derived from an earlier source. The sonata opens with a fast movement in 6/8, the ascending arpeggio in the left hand answered immediately by the right. It has a G major second subject and the central development starts in E major, making much of the opening figure before the final recapitulation. The following Adagio in G major has elaborate figuration for the right hand and is linked by means of an unexpected cadence into E minor to the final Vivace molto in that key, marked innocentemente and with contrasting melodies in the major and minor keys.
The three sonatas Hob. XVI: 40- 42 appeared in 1784 and were dedicated to Princess Marie Esterházy, who had married the grandson of Haydn's patron Prince Nicolaus in the early autumn of 1783. It has been suggested that the set was in the nature of a wedding present to the wife of Haydn's future patron, the younger Prince Nicolaus. Each of the sonatas is in two movements. The first of the sonatas, in G major, is marked Allegretto e innocente, a suggestion of the feminine grace expected of their performer. The principal theme, each of its two sections repeated, is followed the two sections of a dramatic theme in G minor. A varied version of the G major theme returns, to be followed by a more elaborate version of the G minor material, leading to a more decorated re-appearance of the first theme. The second movement, marked Presto, is again in two repeated sections, the first of which returns after a brief interlude of drama, to end now in the tonic key. A section in E minor is followed by a more elaborate version of the principal theme. The second sonata, in B flat major, has a principal theme in dotted rhythm, while a triplet accompaniment predominates in the subsidiary theme. Interesting twists of harmony, even in the second bar, are carried further in the central development, which opens in D flat major. Much use is made of answering figures between right and left hands in the lively second movement. Again the two sections of the principal theme are each repeated, before a B flat minor version of the material, leading to a more decorated version of the first theme in the tonic major key. The set ends with a Sonata in D major. The first movement is marked Andante con espressione and the two sections of the principal theme are again each repeated before returning in varied guise, with changes of ornamentation and mode, the final version being one of some intricacy. The main theme of the lively second movement is one of the clearest possible texture in its first appearance and forms the substance of the movement.
The Sonata in C major, Hob. XVI: 48, first appeared in 1789 in the first number of the Musikalischer Pot-Pourri published by Christoph Gottlob Breitkopf in Leipzig. It opens with a slow movement, marked Andante con espressione, and shows an attention to the dynamics of the new fortepiano that heralds the work of Beethoven. The two repeated sections of the principal theme are followed by a more complex excursion into C minor, before the return of the first theme in C major in embellished form, followed by a second version of the C minor episode. A wider range of the keyboard and its possible sonorities is explored in the final section, based on the main theme. The final Rondo opens with a spritely main theme but goes on to exploit more grandiose keyboard effects in thicker lower register chords and octaves and a C minor section, after which the main theme returns, in its final guise using sonorities that Haydn had not used before in his sonatas and hence in notable contrast to the group of delicate sonatas for Princess Marie Hermenegild.
Haydn's Variations in F minor, Hob. XVII: 6, with the added title Sonata, Un piccolo Divertimento, were written in Vienna in 1793 for Barbara von Ployer, a pupil of Mozart and daughter of the Salzburg Court Agent in Vienna. The work was published in Vienna only in 1799, when it was dedicated to Baroness von Braun, wife of the director of the Vienna Court Theatres. These double variations start with the F minor theme, followed by a second theme in F major, the first of these then varied by syncopation, and the second with added trills. A rapid demisemiquaver version of th