Movement 1: Adagio – Allegro
Movement 2: Adagio
Movement 3: Menuetto – Trio: Allegro
Movement 4: Finale: Presto
It was the musicologist and composer Donald Tovey who first suggested that the Adagio was Haydn’s requiem for his friend Mozart, who had died the previous December. Certainly the echoes of the ‘Jupiter’ Symphony’s Andante are hard to miss in this sublime movement, in full sonata form. In the recapitulation, the hymn-like main theme (which Haydn seems to have modelled on ‘God save the King’) is poignantly intensified, first with a counterpoint for solo cello, then in woodwind imitation, and finally in an aching new chromatic harmonization. Even the minuet, with its suavely melodious trio, is less flamboyant than those in Nos 93, 94 and 96. There is a delicious moment in the second part when the music dips insouciantly from F major to A flat for a demure flute solo. Haydn the humorist is immediately to the fore in the irrepressible 6/8 finale. The cheeky second theme belongs to the world of Rossini’s Figaro (the Italian was a great admirer of Haydn’s symphonies); and the comedy continues in the development, with its violin solos for Salomon in wildly contrasting keys, and the huge coda. Near the end, after what sounds like a pause for a cadenza, Haydn slows down the main theme with mock solemnity, and then decorates it with a ‘cembalo [i.e. fortepiano] solo’ for himself—an effect that doubtless brought the house down in 1792.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009