J. Haydn :: Sonata n°38 in F Major Hob 16/23
Haydn on April 1st, that makes sense, doesn't it?
If so, let's take the last part to joke a bit, not at all the second part, the adagio of this master sonata. F minor! What a sadness to start this middle movement, so unexpected for Haydn. You know that, at the moment, I am discovering Haydn at a point in my life where normal people start to have a kind of mid-life crisis, and I keep having the feeling that I don't get at the start point of it (of my life...) but anyway, this adagio was to me a complete surprise.
And you know why also?
Because I heard Mozart's middle movement of his 2d sonata (F Major, München sonata, 1775).
Haydn wrote his sonata in ca 1773, the Mozart sonata is not much later. The young master must have known Haydn's music rather well, and it gives to me a very special feeling realising that ca 250 years ago there must have been a similar moment of amazing with that young genius that all of us would like so terribly much shake a hand for only ten seconds, if only it was to thank him for leaving us so much pieces of beauty.
Back to Haydn.
If you listen to this middle section, keep in mind its date of birth: 1773. What to think about the so beautiful modulation in bar 8, with a D flat chord in first position, with lowered f... that is way ahead of its time! Beethoven we hear! But Beethoven at that time could only stammer 'tatataa', not expressing his idea of this leading to a complete symphony. O, not that I do favourite modernity in musical pieces, they are good or less good, but in historical perspective, things like this got my attention.
Haydn brings this dramatical feeling so well in balance with lovely modulations to Ab flat major and other tonalities, where he constantly uses a so simple figure that needs correct timing in order to give it its full meaning. Tempo: I can imagine a performance that emphasises the adagio factor a bit more by playing a bit slower. This might sound as an andante may be. But that is how I feel this at the moment we speak!
The first part is again a beautiful example of a real 4/8, so playing in 4 eight notes, in stead of 2 quarters. You keep the main accents on the quarters, but decrease the tempo a bit according to a tempo ordinario, in order to enable a kind of micro-structure underneath. The 32s notes here a structural and not ornamental, so again pressing the tempo down.
The last part is really a joy to play. It is not easy in ritmical sense, but Haydn is one of the only composers that can be so innocently joyfull without being meaningless.
I LOVE Haydn, and that is a way better feeling than a mid-life crisis (I guess 🙂 )