Of all the first movements of Op 17, that of No 2 comes closest to the flamboyant, first-violin-dominated style of Op 9. Yet Haydn provides plenty of interest for the lower parts, whether in the immediate expansion of the ardent main (and virtually sole) theme, the tight contrapuntal weave at the opening of the development, or the poetic deflection to F minor near the start of the recapitulation. The minuet, growing from ‘rustic’ two-part writing to a full four-part texture, is as imposing as that in No 1. The trio wittily reinterprets the final phrase of the minuet, reharmonizing it (in D minor rather than F major), and then developing it in imitative sequences for first and second violins. After a touching Adagio that could have strayed from a violin concerto, the finale draws ever-new meanings from its laconic opening motif, transmuting it into a lyrical second theme and then working it in a free contrapuntal texture, kick-started by the cello.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2009