Tablet - Portrait

Tablet - Landscape


Franz Joseph Haydn

Haydn wrote this Sonata for the Auenbrugger sisters, who were Viennese patrons he met while serving as Kapellmeister in the Court of Prince Esterhazy. Often composers would have to take into account the technical limitations of the performers for whom they were writing, but Haydn felt few constraints in this case because the Auenbrugger sisters were, according to him, accomplished keyboard players to rank with the finest in Europe. He thus produced this Sonata in D major, which is quite challenging for even talented performers today.

The first movement, marked Allegro con brio, opens with a playful, humorous theme that brims with energy, especially in the second subject and subsidiary material. The mood is bright and carefree until the development section is reached, about midway through. Here, the music turns a bit toward the serious side, but in the reprise the lighter, brighter mood from the opening returns.

In the ensuing movement (Largo e sostenuto), things become utterly serious, the main theme having a solemnity to its almost funereal character, the music's elegance and stately manner at times seeming to verge on eruption. Just when the listener senses the bleakness will worsen or even turn violent, the Presto finale begins, Haydn avoiding the usual pause. The mood is bright, once again, and even more playful than in the first movement. The chipper main theme alternates first with more muscular, rather clownish music, then with a variant exhibiting much the same kind of effervescence and spirited demeanor. While the writing in this movement is challenging, it is also colorful and quite substantive for the listener. This charming Sonata, usually listed as No. 50 in Haydn's catalog, is short, typically lasting about 10 or 11 minutes.