Recorded on 08/30/2005, uploaded on 01/20/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Haydn’s 53rd piano sonata (Hob. XVI:34), composed in 1784, opens with a turbulent movement in E minor. Instead of the welcomed greeting of one of Haydn’s many lyrical and inviting tunes which so often begin his piano sonatas, we are here faced with an austere melodic landscape—a disconnected melody strung together from short motivic ideas. This disjunctive construction of the first theme and the antiphonal response between bass and treble help create the agitated feeling that permeates the movement. Even the late-arriving second theme in G major, though more lyrical and sounds as if it seeks to ease the passionate feelings of the E minor opening, does not fully do so. When it returns in the exposition in the tonic key, it makes for a poignant expression of the movement’s troubled air.
Set over a simple harmonic background, the melody of the Adagio middle movement is like that of a gentle song—though not one intended for the human voice. The melody gradually unfolds with graceful ornamentation until even the rather static harmonic background finds itself wrapped up in arching arpeggios. The peacefulness of this Adagio movement gives way to a dramatic ending in E minor. Soft chords on the dominant prepare the arrival of the finale which follows without pause.
Assuming a lively pace (Molto vivace), the finale is a modified form of rondo. A nimble E minor tune, with the special indication innocentemente, serves as the rondo’s refrain. The first episode which, incidentally, shares a similar head motif with the refrain, changes to the key of the tonic major. This E major melody then returns in varied form to serve as the rondo’s second episode. Joseph DuBose
Presto; Adagio-Vivace molto
The first movement of this little-known sonata has some unusual characteristics. The whole movement is full of fragmented phrases uncommon in Haydn's piano music. This sonata is also the only one of Haydn's 52 sonatas with the first movement marked Presto. The elegant second movement is operatic in character. One can discern shades of Mozart here. The Adagio leads into the third movement without pause. Marked innocentemente, this rondo is one of Haydn's most delightful.
The date of composition is unclear; no date other than that of the first edition printing (January, 1784) is known. Soojin Ahn
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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