J. Haydn :: Sonata n°36 in C Major, Hob XVI/21
Let me say this right at the beginning: this is a BRILLIANT sonata, with one of the most beautiful adagios I know and one of the most cheerful and happy rondo's that I've played. One of the the great things about playing the clavichord, is the fact that I learn every day about the impressive quality's of Haydns work.
And there is still a lot for me to be discovered...Haydn is a bit as CPEBach, you need time to learn and get used to the typical microcosmos, with details and contrasts and expression in which the slightest prolongation or accent has huge impact. The more I play Haydn, the more differences I see with Mozart's music, in a way that Mozart (as he was seen in his time btw) feels as a much more 'modern' composer, whereas Haydn has strong roots in at least the music of CPEBach. Beethoven has both worlds, but that's why he is Beethoven, not?
But on the otherhand, playing these sonata's, written about 1773, has undoubtedly paved the way for Mozart. His Munchen sonata's, of which you find by the time of this upload three sonata's on this channel, would have sounded different probably without these Haydn works.
I play from the Wiener Urtext Edition, that serves me well, although the suggested fingering is just... not good. I don't get the idea of Urtext editions (as Henly) providing fingerings to their users. A fingering gives a clear indication of the idea and interpretation of the player, and as with Henle, also here it is rather clear that a 20th century modern grand piano legato was the point of departure. Key to me to historical fingering is the fact that you suggest a legato even by moving up or down with the same finger, in order to prevent the hand from expanding (as you do from Beethoven onwards). The fingerings give not much support, on the contrary, where one could think of playing these sonata's without indication of fingering (although I always write my fingering, in case of concentration dips or stress during a concert or so), I have to correct these in this edition, taking a pencil and messing up the score...
But anyway, it is made with so much care and knowledge, that this is a small issue. What did strike me, is the preface, and particularly the chapter on choice of instrument and interpretation.
In 1773, the pianoforte was on its way, but not available on great scale. The editor starts with saying that it "is not always possible to decide which of the sonatas was conceived for harpsichord and which for clavichord or already for the Hammerklavier."
Further, there is stated that indications as forte, piano, sforzato... are such 'which would indicate the use of a Hammerklavier'.
That is a strange point of view. Exactly the clavichord was the instrument that could render these subtle indication by far better than the early pianofortes. So it is clear that the "Clavier" was one of the prime keyboard instruments used by Haydn, to play his works on. The presence or absence of dynamic markings does, in my opinion, give no indication at all for the use of the instrument, whether it would be harpsichord or clavichord. Although, to be honest (as I always am of course :-)), the incomplete manuscript of this series of sonatas indicates in the upper corner "Sei Sonate per cembalo". No doubt about that. However, and here starts interpretation, you never know what is the context of that. To me, reconstruction of a general context is far more important than relying on individual facts of which one doesn't know the reason why they exist, or why they exist in that form.
With Haydn, there is to me a certain feeling that one also has with the sonata's of e.g. Clementi, where the composer is giving the world a new piece of music, but is moving on very fast to the next work or project. Mozart starts to elaborate more on his written music, and Beethoven would draw a line between the player/composer, and the composer 'an sich'.
So, just a small reflection of mine, not too important may be, but on the other hand, the more fundamental as well.
However, to end, I could not disagree more to what is written is a kind of conclusion by the editor (bare in mind, the preface was written in 1963!): "The entire question of what instrument to use seems to the editor to be primarily of historical interest and one whose importance is generally exaggerated. The essential musical substance of a masterpiece is quite independent of such considerations." I do think that one should be absolutely free in his/her choice of instrument, but that one must realize that the choice of instrument has significant influence on the character and interpretation of a piece. And (and also this is a personal stand point), in case of Haydn, his sonata's sound great on other instruments, even on a Steinway Grand, but they sound brilliant on a clavichord.