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ClassicsOnline Home » HAYDN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 29 and 33-35
By Jessica Duchen
BBC Music Magazine
Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809)
Piano Sonatas Vol. 7
Sonata No.29 in E flat major, Hob. XVI: 45
Sonata No.33 in C minor, Hob. XVI: 20
Sonata No.34 in D major, Hob. XVI: 33
Sonata No.35 in A flat major, Hob. XVI: 43
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 a return to duty with the Esterhazy 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 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 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 wrote his Sonata No.29 in E flat major, Hob. XVI: 45, in 1766, an important year in his life. To his relief, the old Kapellmeister Gregor Werner died in March, a few months after he had complained bitterly and unjustifiably of Haydn's neglect of his duties. His death brought Haydn the undisputed succession and allowed him now to buy a house in Eisenstadt, still the principal residence of the Esterhazy family. The sonata, described in its title as a Divertimento, was intended for the harpsichord, the likely choice of instrument for all the earlier sonatas. The first movement opens with a characteristic melody, marked by a rising third. There is a contrasting second subject, accompanied by the broken chords of an Alberti bass, before the end of the exposition, which is then repeated. The central development very properly makes opening reference to the first subject, in a minor key, and this returns in due form to start the recapitulation, separated from the second subject by a brief element of drama. The A flat major Andante, leading to a secondary theme in the key of E flat, completes the first section of the movement, which is then repeated. The second section opens with the first theme, now in E flat major, introducing a development of the material, which is finally heard again in recapitulation. The last movement follows the same formal pattern, its secondary theme offering a chance for modest display in its pattern of repeated notes. Again the first section is repeated, followed by a central development that begins with a reference to the first subject. The movement continues with a recapitulation of the material, suggesting at times the textures and harmonies familiar from the work of Domenico Scarlatti.
The dynamic directions in sonata No.33 in C minor, Hob. XVI: 20, make it clear that it was designed for the Hammerklavier, the fortepiano, an instrument capable of making quick dynamic changes. The sonata was written in 1771 and its key of C minor is bound to remind a listener of the use that Mozart made of the same key in writing for the keyboard. It was one of a set of six keyboard sonatas by Haydn published in 1780 by Artaria with a dedication to Caterina and Marianna von Auenbrugger, pianists whose performance Haydn greatly admired. Leopold Mozart too wrote favourably of their talents during the course of a visit to Vienna in 1773, but his son, ten years later, was scathing about the achievement of their father, whom he refers to as Doctor Auernszucker, in a German opera libretto. Between the first subject and the E flat major second subject is a relatively extended passage that includes an element of rhetorical recitative, suggesting the influence of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, second son of Johann Sebastian, with whose earlier keyboard sonatas and writing on the subject Haydn had been familiar from his days in Vienna, after leaving the choir-school. In the central development, in which much initial use is made of the first subject, there is room for Sturm und Drang, before the return of the material, rhetorical recitative and all, in recapitulation. The opening theme is characterized by the repetition of the opening note of the melody. The repeated first section duly modulates from A flat to E flat major, before the central development, with its shifts of tonality, and the abridged recapitulation, in a movement great tenderness. There is inevitable drama in the last movement, broadly in the same formal pattern but allowing for purposeful technical display allied to strong feeling in a prophetic vein, a foretaste of the path the keyboard sonata was later to take.
Haydn's Sonata No.34 in D major, Hob. XVI: 33, has been conjecturally dated to the early 1770s, between 1771 and 1773. It was published in London by Beardmore & Birchall in 1783. The first movement, in an overtly cheerful mood, offers a repeated exposition, duly contrasting the tonic and dominant keys and finding room for an element of surprise, as it approaches its coda. The material is developed in a central section that again introduces moments of hesitation, a delay of expectation, before the recapitulation The slow movement is in D minor, the opening soon lightened by a shift to F major for the secondary theme of a repeated exposition. The same key opens the development, but the original key soon returns to complete the movement in a recapitulation. The last movement starts with scarcely a pause. In the style of a minuet, this follows the principal theme with a D minor section. The major and minor themes are varied, with the D major returning finally in its original form, to undergo a further, concluding transformation.
The Sonata in A flat major, Hob. XVI: 43, was also published as one of the same set of three in London in 1783. It is thought to have been written between 1771 and 1773. The second subject of the repeated exposition at first suggests a transposition of the first theme, but soon moves into other territory in a display of triplet figuration. This rhythm, whether in accompaniment or in melodic contour, has a leading part to play in the central development, at the end of which a rhetorical pause leads to a recapitulation. The slow movement takes the form of a minuet and trio, both in the tonic key and suggesting the scherzo rather than the formal dance. The sonata ends with a Rondo, its first episode closely related to the sprightly first theme. A minor key episode introduces an element of dramatic tension, quickly dispelled by the return of the principal theme. When it finally returns, after a further excursion into more dramatic territory, it is subject to subtle changes in outline, wide leaps in the right hand to test the accuracy of the performer, before the sonata comes to an end.
The Hungarian pianist Jeno Jandó has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad, including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in the chamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977 He has recorded for Naxos all the piano concertos and sonatas of Mozart Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg and Schumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second Concerto and Paganini Rhapsody and Beethoven's complete piano sonatas.
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HAYDN: Piano Sonatas Nos. 29 and 33-35