Movement 1: Adagio – Vivace
Movement 2: Adagio ma non troppo
Movement 3: Menuetto – Trio: Allegretto
Movement 4: Finale: Presto assai
As in Symphony No 94, Haydn writes a theme-and-variation slow movement (here Adagio ma non troppo) that subjects an instantly appealing melody to dramatic transformations, most spectacularly in the third variation, where the violins create a whining, metallic sonority by playing sul ponticello (‘on the bridge’). Even more extraordinary is the coda, with its keening flute and oboe above faintly ominous string tremolos. Uniquely in these symphonies, the minuet and rustic-dance trio both have fully written-out repeats that present their themes in ever-new orchestral guises. The swaggering minuet subsequently becomes almost dainty; and the trio culminates in a delicious passage, like a transfigured village band, with a single violin (marked ‘Salomon solo ma piano’) playing the melody an octave above the orchestral violins. By 1792 Haydn’s London public were prepared for the élan and inspired theatricality of his sonata-rondo finales. No 97’s adds an aggressive brilliance and harmonic and contrapuntal dexterity of its own, climaxing in a coda that comically stutters to a halt before erupting in a final peal of C major.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009