The second movement uses Baroque fugato as a frame for typically empfindsame melodic sighs. The movement is notable for its marvellous sense of stillness. One recalls Charles Burney’s famous description of Emanuel Bach improvising at the keyboard: ‘[He] looked like one inspired. His eyes were fixed, his underlip fell, and drops of effervescence distilled from his countenance.’
The final Allegro shows Bach’s great sense of wit and timing, as the pauses between phrases are specifically notated. Particularly noteworthy is the novel use of brash melodic leaps and block chords in a manner far removed from the polyphonic cantabile of an earlier generation. These elements of humour and drama were not lost on the young Joseph Haydn, who himself attested that he recognized only Emanuel Bach as his prototype. This should not surprise us—this final movement immediately brings to mind the finale of Haydn’s own F major Sonata, Hob. XVI/23 (1773).
from notes by Mahan Esfahani © 2014