Please wait...

Hyperion Records

CKD464 - Haydn: The London Sonatas

Recording details: September 2013
Historischer Reitstadel zu Neumarkt in der Oberpfalz, Germany
Produced by Philip Hobbs
Engineered by Philip Hobbs
Release date: July 2014
Total duration: 74 minutes 23 seconds

The London Sonatas
Allegro  [8'25]
Adagio  [5'11]
Allegro molto  [2'34]
Andante  [3'43]
Finale: Presto  [1'58]
Allegro moderato  [8'15]
Adagio  [5'50]
Finale: Presto  [5'55]
Allegro  [7'18]

Pianist Gottlieb Wallisch is the perfect exemplar of the Viennese piano tradition. Wallisch launched his international career by winning the ‘Joseph Haydn Prize’ as well as first prize at the prestigious Stravinsky Awards at the age of sixteen. He celebrated Haydn’s anniversary year in 2009 by giving a critically acclaimed cycle of concerts in the Musikverein, Vienna dedicated to the composer. Here he performs Haydn’s London Sonatas.

These works can be viewed as the distillation of the composer’s entire sonata-writing experience. Sonata No 60, Hob XVI:50, was written for an instrument of greater tonal range than the Viennese instruments of the day, with a wider palette of specified dynamic possibilities and pedal effects. With a striking two-movement format, asymmetrical phrases and unusual accents Sonata No 61, Hob XVI:51, was ahead of its time, breaking the limits of traditional sonata form.

Often described as a symphony for the piano, Sonata No 62, Hob XVI:52, has frequently been praised as Haydn’s ‘opus summum’ due to its large-scale form, diversity of expression and its virtuoso requirements.

A 24-bit 192 kHz studio master for this album is available from the Linn Records website.

Other recommended albums
'Bruckner: Symphony No 4' (SIGCD256)
Bruckner: Symphony No 4
SIGCD256  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Mahler: Symphony No 6' (SIGCD275)
Mahler: Symphony No 6
SIGCD275  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Russian Treasures' (SIGCD900)
Russian Treasures
SIGCD900  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6' (SIGCD253)
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No 6
SIGCD253  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
'Widor: The Organ Symphonies, Vol. 3' (SIGCD334)
Widor: The Organ Symphonies, Vol. 3
SIGCD334  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Introduction  EnglishDeutsch
The London Sonatas
On 28 September 1790 Joseph Haydn’s longtime employer, Prince Nikolaus I Joseph Esterházy de Galantha, passed away. Prior to the Prince’s death, Haydn had served a remarkable twenty-four year tenure as Kapellmeister at Esterháza. Nikolaus’ successor, Prince Anton, was entirely unmusical and discontinued the orchestra and the opera company. The thus retired Haydn hastily moved to Vienna, but still retained a nominal appointment with Prince Anton, including a salary of 400 florins, as well as a 1000-florin pension from Nikolaus.

After his arrival in Vienna, Haydn was visited by the German violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon, who invited him to England to conduct his symphonies in London with a large orchestra. Haydn, whose works were already popular far beyond the courts of the Habsburg monarchy in 1790, was now liberated from his courtly duties and accepted the extremely lucrative offer, making the first of his two journeys to London.

Together with Salomon he traveled via Munich to Bonn and from there to Calais, where they crossed the English Channel on New Year’s Day 1791. In London Haydn quickly became the focal point of English musical society. In a letter to his good friend Marianne von Genzinger he wrote:

My arrival caused a great sensation through the whole city, and I went the round of all the newspapers for three successive days. Everyone seems anxious to know me. I have already dined out six times, and could be invited every day if I chose; but I must in the first place consider my health, and in the next my work. Except the nobility, I admit no visitors till two o’clock in the afternoon, and at four o’clock I dine at home with Salomon.

Haydn was fascinated by the metropolis and in turn he was received enthusiastically; the English loved and appreciated his music. In 1792 the London Newspaper wrote: ‘We never had a richer musical enjoyment. It is certainly not surprising that Haydn is an object of admiration, and even of worship, for those hearts susceptible to music; for just the same as our Shakespeare, he does move and rule our passions at will.’ In addition to his musical work he also maintained an intense social life, which he described in a letter to Marianne:

I was yesterday invited to a grand amateur concert, but as I arrived rather late, when I gave my ticket, they would not let me in, but took me to an ante-room, where I was obliged to remain till the piece which was then being given was over. Then they opened the door, and I was conducted, leaning on the arm of the director, up the centre of the room to the front of the orchestra amid universal clapping of hands, stared at by everyone, and greeted by a number of English compliments. I was assured that such honours had not been conferred on anyone for fifty years. After the concert I was taken into a very handsome room adjoining, where tables were laid for all the amateurs, to the number of two hundred. It was proposed that I should take a seat near the top, but as it so happened that I had dined out that very day, and ate more than usual, I declined the honour, excusing myself under the pretext of not being very well; but in spite of this, I could not get off drinking the health, in Burgundy, of the harmonious gentlemen present; all responded to it, but at last allowed me to go home. All this, my dear lady, was very flattering to me.

During his stay in London, Haydn’s social life flourished. He made the acquaintance of King George III and the Queen of England, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and Duchess of York, as well as many other aristocrats and members of the high bourgeoisie. Numerous honours were bestowed upon him, among them the Honorary Doctorate of Music from Oxford University, awarded in 1791. In London he enjoyed a free, informal artist’s life: ‘How sweet a certain freedom does taste, I had a good prince, but had to depend on low souls at times, I sighed for salvation, now I know it to some extent.’

Inspired by the dimensions of the English orchestras, which were much larger than those in his homeland, Haydn composed a number of his most outstanding works during this period, most notably the twelve ‘London Symphonies’ (Hob I:93-104). He also continued to devote himself to the piano. During his second journey to London in the years 1794-5, Haydn composed the magnum opus of his symphonic oeuvre as well as his last three piano sonatas. The dedicatee of Sonata No 60 in C major, Hob XVI:50, Therese Jansen, was an excellent pianist who had gained a first-class reputation in London as a former student of Muzio Clementi. Haydn served as best man at her wedding with the art dealer Gaetano Bartolozzi in 1795. Whether Sonata No 61 in D major, Hob XVI:51, was also dedicated to Therese Jansen, as alleged in many editions, is not known for certain. It is also quite possible that Haydn composed it for the pianist Rebecca Schroeter, with whom he was tenderly acquainted in London.

Evidence of the immense inspiration that Haydn found in London is particularly apparent in his C major Sonata, Hob XVI:50. It was written for an instrument of greater tonal range than the Viennese instruments of the time, with a wider palette of specified dynamic possibilities and pedal effects. The monothematic and extremely poignant first movement is followed by a genuinely arioso middle movement (which was already written and published in a slightly modified form in 1794 in Vienna). Finally, the Sonata ends with one of Haydn’s most humorous and condensed finales, full of unpredictable general pauses, disruptions and surprising modulations which ambush the listener.

The D major Sonata, Hob XVI:51 is the most idiosyncratic and alsothe least performed of this triad. Its two-movement construction and hence, its brevity, are immediately striking. Additionally, the first movement, with its elongated vocal sections, seems to look far ahead into the nineteenth century, perhaps as far as Schubert. At first sight the short finale is a confusing scherzo: innumerable ‘wrong’ accents are subtly set against the beat and unusually the lengths of the phrases are asymmetrical. This is an example of Haydn deliberately going against the listener's expectations and breaking the limits of the traditional sonata form. It is only through the requested repeats of both parts of the finale that it becomes clear that these accents were intentional.

The Sonata No 62 in E flat major, Hob XVI:52 can best be described as a symphony for the piano. It has frequently been praised as Haydn’s ‘opus summum’ for the piano and rightly so given the large scale of its form, the diversity of expression and its virtuoso requirements of the performer. The Sonata is characterized by its timelessness, incorporating such unique traits as the seemingly radical juxtaposition of the middle movement in the key of E major. For the first time in his oeuvre, Haydn achieves an unheard-of orchestral richness in the outer movements, while the ingenious subtlety and rhetoric of the slow movement have a calming effect in between. The fire of the finale is one of inextinguishable energy and is demonstrative of Haydn’s spirited side.

Sonata in E flat major & Variations in F minor
'I was cut off from the world, no one close to me could make me irritated and tormented, and so I had to become original.'

With these simple words, Haydn described his long tenure at the court of Prince Esterházy. His complete seclusion from the outside world at Esterháza enabled Haydn to compose thoroughly original works, born from both necessary artistic introspection and the depth of his own personality. A notable example of this is Sonata No 59 in E flat major, Hob XVI:49, the last of his sonatas to be composed in Esterháza during 1789-90, before his departure to England. Surviving correspondence suggests a degree of conflict regarding the Sonata’s supposed dedicatee. The composition was commisioned by Prince Esterházy’s housekeeper Anna Jerlischek, later to be the wife of the violinist Johann Tost; the first edition bears the note ‘Composta per la Stimatissima Signora Anna de Jerlischek’. However, the original handwritten score names Marianne von Genzinger as dedicatee. Haydn made mention of this Sonata in a letter to her, proclaiming that the slow movement was ‘full of meaning and emotion’. Within, a striking B flat minor middle section stands out with its forceful dramatic nature. The finale, as requested in advance by Marianne, is a minuet with a trio, simple in form, but soulful in expression, particularly in the E flat minor middle section. It is also interesting to note the way in which Haydn developed the shape of the first two movements; he added a cadence before the recapitulation of the first movement and then concluded both movements with an extended coda.

A solo work characteristic of Haydn’s style, the Variations in F minor, Hob XVII:6, enjoys great popularity alongside his other sonatas. The vast theme is divided into two sections, one in F minor, the second in F major, and the two variations are engulfed by a subdued, almost nostalgic mood. However, the subsequent coda contains an unexpected emotional explosion, a burst of tragic passion which fades into a conclusion that is full of resignation despite its switch to F major. It is possible that the death of Marianne in 1793 could have inspired this composition. Haydn dedicated the piece to Barbara von Ployer, a well-known pianist, who was also the dedicatee of two piano concertos by Mozart. Interestingly, it had three different designations: ‘Sonata’ (on Haydn’s manuscript), ‘Un piccolo divertimento’ (on a copy of the manuscript by his copyist Elssler) and ‘Variations pour le Clavecin ou Piano-Forte’ (in Artaria’s first edition). On the occasion of the Sonata’s publication, it was met with the highest praise from the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung: 'A melancholic Andante, varied as only a master knows to vary, so that it nearly sounds as free as a Fantasy.'

Gottlieb Wallisch © 2014
English: Gero Mertens

   English   Français   Deutsch