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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from APR6004
Recording details: November 1932
Abbey Road Studios, London, United Kingdom
Release date: February 2007
Total duration: 15 minutes 36 seconds

Piano Sonata in E flat major, Hob XVI:52
composer
1794/5; written for Therese Jansen; No 62

Allegro moderato  [5'46]  recorded 11 November 1932
Adagio  [4'54]  recorded 11 November 1932
Finale: Presto  [4'56]  recorded 11 November 1932

Other recordings available for download
Gottlieb Wallisch (piano)
Marc-André Hamelin (piano)
Angela Hewitt (piano)
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Remote tonal relationships are a prime feature of the noble, almost symphonic E flat Sonata, No 52, Haydn’s grandest and most spacious work for the piano. Here, though, they are integrated into a boldly comprehensive design. Haydn sets the slow movement in the far-flung ‘Neapolitan’ key of E major. But he is careful to flag this audacious move during the massive opening Allegro moderato, a movement as rich in diverse ideas as the C major’s was economical. At the heart of the development the music pauses rhetorically on a deep, full chord of G major, leading the ear to expect a resolution to C minor. But Haydn has other ideas; and with an effect at once startling, witty and poetic, the flippant second theme prances in in the quite alien key of E major. Having conjured this luminous, strangely unreal vision, Haydn then spirits the music back to the home key E flat and the recapitulation via a wonderful gliding chromatic sequence. There is another, more fleeting presentiment of the key of the Adagio near the end of the movement. Here a phrase in soft, bare octaves from the exposition is chromatically expanded, creating a mysterious phrase replete with double flats that could be rewritten enharmonically in E major.

Like the slow movement of No 50, the Adagio suggests a fantasia in its rhapsodic, richly ornamented style. But it is a more varied, far-reaching piece, more sonorously scored and more audacious in its harmony—as when the tonality veers dramatically towards a remote C major in the second half of the theme. A central episode in E minor develops the theme’s initial dotted phrase in music by turns stark and airily whimsical. Haydn has another tonal surprise up his sleeve at the start of the finale. After the E major Adagio, the unharmonized repeated Gs lead the ear to expect E minor; and when a sustained bass note in bar two establishes the key of E flat, we experience a sense of pleasurable shock. The whole movement is the consummation of Haydn’s Scarlatti-influenced toccata style, developing its irrepressible main theme with dazzling verve and chromatic sleight-of-hand: a coruscating ending to a work that, if not quite his last sonata, gloriously crowns a genre that Haydn, more than anyone, had raised from lightweight, divertimento origins to a status comparable with the exalted symphony and the string quartet.

from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2007


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