Recorded on 10/23/2007, uploaded on 01/26/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Composed in the late 1760s, the Piano Sonata No. 31, like nearly all of Haydn’s other sonatas, bears the alternate title of “Divertimento.” Set in the serene key of A flat major, the entire sonata has a peculiar peacefulness about it—even the Presto finale does not fully abandon the graceful lyricism that predominates the sonata. As is usual, Haydn’s writing throughout is quite ornamental with numerous brilliant scales and arpeggios.
Interestingly, each of the three movements is written in some variant of sonata form. The first movement, marked Allegro moderato, is a full-fledged sonata form. The development section is quite lengthy and actually occupies one measure more than the entire exposition. In general, composers of the Classical period sought a closer balance between the exposition and the development/recapitulation—a vestige of the old Baroque sonata and its binary form origins.
The middle Adagio in D flat major takes on a more contrapuntal texture than the other movements. It opens with a flowing melodic line especially marked espressivo, which is immediately repeated with an added countermelody. Alternating between three- and four-part counterpoint, each voice takes on takes on a life of its own, interacting and complementing each of the others. The movement, in part, adopts the Baroque sonata form. After the close of the exposition in the dominant key, the first theme is taken up again in the same key with the second theme following later in the tonic. However, both themes throughout the recapitulation are differently treated and moderately expanded.
Lastly, the finale, though the liveliest movement of the sonata, presents itself with supple charm. Instead of the more usual rondo, or even sonata-rondo, Haydn has here selected yet another sonata form as the structure of the movement. This time a coda is appended to the end of the movement where up-and-down scales over a steady bass rising up the A flat major scale build up the energy that is released in the flurry of notes that close the sonata. JosephDuBose
This sonata was written in the 1780s while Haydn was serving as a court musician at the Esterhazy castle in Hungary. Unlike his other piano sonatas composed in the same period, this sonata clearly demonstrates repeating characteristics within movements, anticipating one of the major features of piano works in his final period. In addition, unexpected changes of key, a false recapitulation, and an influence from his predecessor C.P.E Bach (Empfindsamkeit-sensitive style) are clearly expressed in this sonata. Ja-Sing Lin
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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