For Symphony No 22, like its predecessor No 21 (the chronology of the symphonies is not always so straightforward), Haydn took as his basis the archaic form of the church sonata. Its distinguishing factor was that it would always begin with a slow movement (the increasingly common slow introduction to the fast first movement of Haydn symphonies—such as No 25—is conceivably derived from this old form). In the case of No 22, this is virtually an orchestral chorale prelude, and its slow, thoughtful tread (the steady quavers in the bass line are maintained virtually throughout) must have been the inspiration behind its apocryphal title ‘The Philosopher’ (the pensive nature of the symphony is also distinguished by its darker orchestral colouring, in which the usual oboes are substituted by a pair of cor anglais). Gradually the muted violins break free from the regular quaver movement and engage in suitably academic sounding counterpoint.
The following Presto is typical of the fast movements of Haydn’s early symphonies, having just one main theme: late-eighteenth-century so-called sonata form would gradually develop its two contrasting main ideas—first and second subject. Here, the music modulates to the expected key, the dominant, B flat, but what it arrives at can hardly be called a ‘theme’ as such, more a transitional idea. The rather austere minuet is tempered by its trio, in which the pairs of wind instruments (by name, at least, horns both ‘French’ and ‘English’) are given their head over discreet string accompaniment. The Presto Finale is typically constructed from the briefest of ideas, a three-note falling scale, heard at the opening and forming the basis of another monothematic sonata movement.
from notes by Matthew Rye © 1994